Tuesday, Oct 03, 2023

Mexico president sidesteps calls to probe predecessor over missing students

Mexico president sidesteps calls to probe predecessor over missing students

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday deflected calls to investigate his predecessor over the 2014 disappearance of 43 student teachers, after officials arrested a top official in the prior administration over the crime.
Mexican officials on Friday arrested Jesus Murillo, the former attorney general of ex-president Enrique Pena Nieto, on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice linked to the probe into what became of the students.

The abduction and disappearance of the 43 on Sept. 26, 2014 battered Pena Nieto's legacy, and his government's account of what happened to the youths was later pilloried by a panel of international experts who reviewed it, known as the GIEI.

Following Murillo's arrest, Lopez Obrador was asked whether Pena Nieto should also be held to account. He noted that Murillo and his team were responsible for the investigation, and pointed to a new government report published about the case.

"The report does not request an investigation be opened or an arrest warrant be requested against Pena Nieto, but against others," Lopez Obrador told a news conference, adding that future decisions were in the hands of judges handling the case.

Lopez Obrador took office in late 2018 vowing to clear up the crime after the GIEI said the original official account of what happened was riddled with errors and abuses, including the torture of witnesses.

The remains of only a few of the students, who were abducted in the southwestern city of Iguala, have been definitively identified. Murillo's investigation concluded that a local drug gang working with corrupt police killed the students after mistaking them for members of a rival outfit.

Mexico's top human rights official called the disappearances a "state crime" involving local, state and federal officials.

On Monday, the GIEI said the investigation was still incomplete and urged the government to reveal the evidence used in its new report so it could assess the findings.

Lopez Obrador's government has also been trying to arrest Tomas Zeron, who led the agency that headed Murillo's probe, including asking Israel last year to extradite him.

The incumbent Mexican attorney general's office has announced over 80 arrest orders for soldiers, police, state officials and gang members in relation to the case.

"If the judges or prosecutors determine others were involved, they will make their decisions with absolute freedom," Lopez Obrador said.

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