Mexico arrests retired general for the disappearance of 43 students

The Mexican Ministry of Security has issued arrest warrants for four former military officers, including the commander of the unit suspected of kidnapping 43 students in 2014.

Mexican Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejia on September 15 announced four arrest warrants for military officers involved in the disappearance of 43 pedagogical students in the city of Iguala in 2014.

Three of the four were detained, including former General Jose Rodriguez, who commanded the 27th Infantry Battalion at the time of the disappearances. Rodriguez is the most senior officer in the military to be arrested in connection with the case.

The previous government had concluded that a group of corrupt police officers in the city of Iguala helped a local drug gang to kidnap students.

After the incumbent government restarted the investigation of the case, investigators discovered information that once 6 students in the missing group were returned to General Rodriguez, but he ordered the killing of these 6 people, Deputy Minister Mexican Interior Alejandro Encinas in late August said.

Protesters carry banners with portraits of 43 students missing during a march in Mexico City in 2014. Photo: AFP.

Protesters carry banners with portraits of 43 students missing during a march in Mexico City in 2014. Photo: AFP.

Mexico’s Defense Ministry said it has no information about the allegations against General Rodriguez. The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador described it as a “state-level” criminal case because it involved many levels of the previous administration, including local, state and federal public authorities.

The Mexican Army in 2014 was also accused of aiding and assisting in hiding the identity of the perpetrators. This service was then under the command of General Salvador Cienfuegos.

Mr. Cienfuegos was arrested by US police in Los Angeles in 2020 on drug charges. The former Mexican general denied all charges brought by US prosecutors. Under diplomatic pressure from Mexico, the case was eventually shelved.

Two Mexican government officials said prosecutors do not plan to investigate links between Mr. Cienfuegos and the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.

Before the events of September 15, former justice minister Jesus Murillo Karam, who led the controversial investigation into the disappearance of 43 students, was arrested in August.

The Mexican Attorney General’s office said Murillo Kara was arrested on charges of forcible disappearance, torture and subversion of justice. Murillo Karam is the highest-ranking civilian official arrested to date in connection with a case that has shocked the country and prompted international condemnation.

The 2014 disappearance occurred after students requisitioned five buses to protest, but were stopped by a group of police officers in the city of Iguala, Guerrero state and handed over to the drug gang. Prosecutors believe the gang mistook the student group for a rival gang member.

A report released by the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto in January 2015 said gang members killed students, burned their bodies in a landfill and dumped them in a river.

However, the report was rejected by the students’ families as well as independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as inaccurate. What really happened to the group of students is still hotly debated.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that any soldiers and officials involved in the disappearance must face justice. Lopez Obrador said in March that navy members were being investigated for alleged tampering of evidence, particularly at the landfill where human remains were found, including the only three students identified so far. .

He denied independent experts’ accusations that Mexican officials were withholding important information about the incident.

Name (Theo Reuters)

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