MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s army were “aware of what was happening” during the kidnap and disappearance of 43 students in a 2014 crime that shocked the nation, a government commission said in a document released yesterday.
No proper explanation has been given for what happened to the rural students who went missing on their way to a protest in Mexico City.
So far the remains of only three have been identified, and accusations of collusion between drug gangs, police and military officers in the disappearance have caused widespread revulsion in a country where abductions and killings are all too common.
“The army were aware of what was happening” and the soldiers involved “had real time information on the possible destination of the missing students”, said a document issued by a truth commission tasked by the government with investigating the atrocity.
According to the report, the secretariat of national defence (Sedena), to which the army belongs, was monitoring members of the armed group that committed the crime with the complicity of state agents.
The students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School had commandeered buses in the southern state of Guerrero to travel to a demonstration in the capital before they went missing in September 2014.
Investigators said they were detained by corrupt police and handed over to a drug cartel, though exactly what happened to them is unclear.
Last year, the truth commission branded it a “state crime” and said the military shared responsibility, either directly or through negligence.
One theory that it put forward was that cartel members targeted the students because they had unknowingly taken a bus with drugs hidden inside.
Former attorney-general Jesus Murillo Karam, who led a controversial investigation into the mass kidnapping, was arrested last year on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice.
He is considered the architect of the so-called “historical truth” version of events – presented in 2015 by the government of then president Enrique Pena Nieto – that was widely rejected, including by victims’ relatives.
Independent experts and relatives have accused the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known by his initials AMLO, of withholding vital information.
AMLO has promised full access to information related to the case.
So far 132 suspects have been detained in connection with the crime, according to the commission.
As well as Murillo Karam, they include 41 members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, 71 police officers, 14 members of the army and five other officials.
Last month, relatives of the missing joined thousands of protesters in Mexico City to demand justice on the anniversary of one of the country’s worst human rights atrocities.