A former Mexican attorney general has been arrested and warrants issued for 83 army soldiers and officers over the notorious disappearance of 43 students in 2014.
Jesús Murillo was arrested at his Mexico City home on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the abduction and disappearance of the student-teachers in the southwest state of Guerrero.
The attorney general’s office also released 83 more arrest orders for soldiers, police, Guerrero officials and gang members in relation to the case.
Murillo was attorney general from 2012 to 2015 under then president Enrique Peña Nieto, during which he oversaw the highly criticised investigation into the 26 September 2014 disappearance of students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.
The remains of only three students have been found and identified, with the case haunting Mexico ever since.
Murillo announced in 2014 that the students had been killed and burned at a rubbish dump by a drug gang, but the investigation allegedly used torture, improper arrest and mishandling of evidence, resulting in most of the suspects walking free.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 and vowed to clear up what had happened. His administration has tried to arrest another former top official, Tomas Zeron, since 2020, including asking Israel to extradite him last year.
The attorney general’s office said Murillo co-operated “without resistance”.
It comes a day after Mexico’s top human rights official, Alejandro Encinas, called the disappearance a “state crime” with involvement from local, state and federal officials.
“What happened? A forced disappearance of the boys that night by government authorities and criminal groups,” Mr Encinas told a news conference.
Mr Encinas said the highest levels of Mr Peña Nieto’s administration orchestrated the coverup, including altering crime scenes and hiding links between authorities and criminals.
Murillo took over the case in 2014 and dubbed the government’s findings the “historical truth”.
According to that version, a local drug gang mistook the students for members of a rival group before killing them, incinerating their bodies in a rubbish dump and then tipping the remains into a river.
However a panel of international experts picked holes in the account and the United Nations denounced arbitrary detentions and torture during the inquiry.
The phrase “historical truth” became synonymous with the perception of corruption and impunity under Mr Peña Nieto.
The lawyer for the parents of the Ayotzinapa students, Vidulfo Rosales, called on the government to make more arrests.
“There’s still a lot left to go before we can think this case has been solved,” Mr Rosales told Mexican television.
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