Experts attack Mexico’s investigation into 43 missing students


The Argentinian forensic team aiding enquiries into the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico is questioning the Mexican government’s conclusion that the youths were kidnapped by police and incinerated at a rubbish tip by a drug gang, stating that it should be allowed to investigate all possibilities.

EAAF, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which has been supporting Mexican investigations as an independent party at the request of victims’ families, released a statement, supported by photographs, claiming that the government’s conclusions were inherently flawed. They also stated that there is “not yet any scientific evidence” to confirm that remains found at the crime scene rubbish tip belonged to the students.

The team criticised the Mexican authorities for carrying out what they described as “a partial reading of the evidence” to support their conclusion that the students were killed, their bodies incinerated in southern Guerrero state and their remains thrown into a nearby river, also highlighting unexplained errors in 20 of officials’ genetic profiles of the victims. EAAF commented that errors of this nature are unusual as the process of creating such profiles is simple.

The team stressed that it “doesn’t exclude the possibility that some of the students met the fate described by the attorney general”, the experts said in the statement issued after they met with the victims’ parents. “But, in our opinion, there is no scientific evidence to support that in the garbage dump.”

“The evidence has to be interpreted in all its possibilities without giving preference to those interpretations which only coincide with the testimonies of the accused,” EAAF added.

On 27th January, Mexico attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam announced that, based on 487 forensic tests, 386 declarations, 39 confessions, 16 raids and two site reconstructions, Mexican investigators concluded that the students were rounded up by police in the town of Iguala on 26th September and handed over to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel. They were then reportedly taken to a dump in Cocula and burned, their remains later being thrown into a river.

Various independent groups across the globe have questioned the attorney general’s conclusion as improbable, raising doubts that the temperature of an open-air fire could rise to that of a crematorium oven and reduce such a large number of bodies to ash.

According to the EAAF statement, the attorney general’s office allowed the rubbish tip under investigation to be left unguarded for a number of weeks, permitting any individual to plant or manipulate evidence. Members of the prosecutor’s office were also apparently absent from key moments in the investigation, including the point at which the students’ remains were first found in the river and on a November trip to the dump during which 42 shell casings were found.

The Mexican government has been swamped by criticism and opposition in the wake of the students’ disappearances. President Enrique Peña Nieto was slow to react and seemed out-of-touch with the issues in hand; attorney general Murillo Karam commented that he was “tired” of the investigations in an aside after a November news conference; conflict of interest scandals involving two houses owned by the president’s family and the Mexican finance minister have recently come to light.

Murillo Karam’s January press conference was interpreted by many across Mexico as the government’s attempt to close the missing student case, which has sparked a huge amount of political unrest and numerous protests both inside the country and abroad. The attorney general contests the assertion that he and the Mexican government were trying to close the case.

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