On the night of 26 September 2014, students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in rural Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, commandeered buses to travel to demonstrations in Mexico City. Municipal police, members of the Guerreros Unidos, and, allegedly, elements of the military and federal police opened fire.
When it was over, six bodies lay on the ground, 25 others sustained gunshot and other wounds, and 43 students had vanished, kidnapped, allegedly by cartel members [previously].
The Mexican government insists that all 43 were killed by the cartel, their bodies incinerated in a rubbish dump, with their ashes then hurled into a river in plastic bags.
One bag recovered from the stream yielded enough DNA evidence to link it to one of the missing students, but the fate of the others remains unknown.
The latest development casts still more doubt on the official version.
From the Guardian:
Laboratory tests showed no evidence that Mexico’s missing 43 students were among the remains recovered from a rubbish tip, where the Mexican government insists the teacher trainees’ bodies were burned in an all-night inferno and the ashes tossed in an adjacent river.
The results, released to reporters late Friday night, dealt further discredit to the official investigation, which the attorney general at the time called “the historic truth”. The report comes as the Mexican government defended its original inquiry from accusations that it undermined the work of international investigators, who considered the fire theory implausible and scientifically impossible.
“These results do not scientifically support the attorney general’s office theory,” said Mario Patrón, director of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Centre, which was worked with the students’ families and the international investigations into the case.
“It was not possible to obtain, at this point, identifications of the genetic profiles in all the samples of skeletal remains,” along with other samples of hairs found on clothing, the attorney general’s office said in a statement. The results of one further process of DNA testing is still pending.
More from teleSUR English:
The Mexican government’s claims about what happened to the 43 forcibly disappeared Ayotzinapa students has been dealt another blow, this time by Austrian forensic experts who found no DNA links between the missing students and human remains treated as key evidence in the case, the Mexican
Investigators from Austria’s University of Innsbruck studied 53 samples of bones, hair, and clothing found on the bus where the students were traveling before they were kidnapped and almost a dozen samples from the garbage dump and river where authorities claim the bodies were burned and dumped.
But with no DNA links to the 43 students, none of the samples offered evidence of the whereabouts of the 43 students’ remains.
On 2 April ESE news service reported that results of other tests indicated that at least 17 people had been burned at the site:
Six experts have concluded that at least 17 people were incinerated at a garbage dump in the southern Mexican town of Cocula and said more tests would be carried out to determine whether the bodies of all 43 students who went missing in 2014 could have been burned to ashes there, the latest development in a case that has garnered international attention.
Ricardo Torres, spokesman for the group that conducted a new analysis at the site, said Friday there was “sufficient, even physically observable, evidence to affirm that there was a controlled, large-scale fire event” at the municipal dump in Cocula, located in the southern state of Guerrero.
He added that the skeletal remains that were collected “indicate that at least 17 adult human beings were incinerated at that place.”
In a statement to the press, Torres said the group of fire experts would only be able to establish whether a mass burning of 43 bodies occurred, as suspects detained in the case have told investigators, by carrying out large-scale tests in the coming weeks.
The families of the insist the government has been lying to them, a reasonable suspicion at the very least.
And given that scores of others had been “disappeared ” by cartels in the region in recent years, there’s even more reason to doubt.
More from Al Jazeera’s The Stream:
Mexico’s disappeared: Searching for the Ayotzinapa students
More than 18 months have passed since 43 students from Ayotzinapa, a town in Mexico’s southern Guerrero state, went missing and the accounts of what happened in 2014 are still unclear. The news sparked international outrage, and to this day, families and activists regularly take to the streets demanding answers.
Since then, a panel of independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have come out poking holes at the government’s investigation. The IACHR’s involvement brought hope to people living in a country where there have reportedly been more than 20,000 disappearance cases in the past decade. But recently, Mexico’s Deputy Interior Minister Roberto Campa announced that the IACHR would cease work by the end of April, prompting some to question what will become of the 43 missing students’ case. Campa reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the investigation, emphasising his faith in the country’s institutions.
Joining this conversation:
- John Gibler, Independent Journalist
- Jose Carreño, Foreign News Editor – Excelsior
- Citlalli Hernandez, Human Rights Campaigner, Serapaz
- Everard Meade, Director, Transborder Institute