Mexico arrests ex-attorney general in missing students case

Aug 19, 2022, 3:56 AM | Updated: Aug 20, 2022, 11:03 am
FILE - Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam gives a news conference in Mexico City, Dec. 7...

FILE - Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam gives a news conference in Mexico City, Dec. 7, 2014. The Mexican Attorney General's Office reported on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, it has detained Murillo Karam, who was in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of the 43 student teachers that occurred in southern Mexico in 2014. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal prosecutors said Friday they have arrested the attorney general in Mexico’s previous administration on charges he committed abuses in the investigation of the 2014 disappearances of 43 students from a radical teacher college.

Prosecutors also announced they had issued arrest warrants in the case against 20 army soldiers and officers, five local officials, 33 local police officers and 11 state police, as well as 14 gang members.

The roundup included the first arrest of a former attorney general in recent history, and one of the biggest mass arrests ever by civilian prosecutors of Mexican army soldiers.

Jesús Murillo Karam served as attorney general from 2012 to 2015, under then President Enrique Peña Nieto. The office of the current attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, said Murillo Karam was charged with torture, official misconduct and forced disappearance.

In 2020, Gertz Manero said Murillo Karam had been implicated in “orchestrating a massive media trick” and leading a “generalized cover-up” in the case.

The arrest came a day after a commission set up to determine what happened said the army bore at least partial responsibility in the case. It said a soldier had infiltrated the student group involved and the army didn’t stop the abductions even though it knew what was happening.

Corrupt local police, other security forces and members of a drug gang abducted the students in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state, although the motive remains unclear eight years later. Their bodies have never been found, though fragments of burned bone have been matched to three of the students.

Murillo Karam, under pressure to quickly solve the case, announced in 2014 that the students had been killed and their bodies burned at a garbage dump by members of a drug gang. He called that hypothesis “the historic truth.”

But the investigation included instances of torture, improper arrest and mishandling of evidence that has since allowed most of the directly implicated gang members to walk free.

The incident occurred near a large army base, and independent investigations have found that members of the military were aware of what was occurring. The students’ families have long demanded that soldiers be included in the investigation.

On Thursday, the truth commission looking into the case said one of the abducted students was a soldier who had infiltrated the radical teachers’ college, yet the army did not search for him even though it had real-time information that the abduction was occurring. It said the inaction violated army protocols for cases of missing soldiers.

The defense ministry has not responded to a request for comment.

The soldiers and officers being sought under Friday’s warrants — and the other officials, police and gang members — face charges of murder, torture, official misconduct, criminal association and forced disappearance

It was not immediately clear whether all the suspects faced all the charges or if the suspects were among dozens previously arrested and charged during previous investigations.

Prior to reforms in Mexican law, the army had long been allowed to refer soldiers accused of wrongdoing to separate military courts. But soldiers must now by tried in civilian courts, if their offenses involved civilians.

The soldiers being charged served at the base near where the abduction occurred in 2014.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which both Murillo Karam and Peña Nieto belonged to, wrote in its Twitter account that Murillo Karam’s arrest “is more a question of politics than justice. This action does not help the victims’ families get answers.”

Mexican federal prosecutors previously issued arrest warrants for members of the military and federal police as well as Tomás Zeron, who at the time of the abduction headed the federal investigation agency, Mexico’s detective agency.

Zeron is being sought on charges of torture and covering up forced disappearances. He fled to Israel, and Mexico has asked the Israeli government for help in his arrest.

Gertz Manero said that in addition to Zeron’s alleged crimes connected to the case, he is alleged to have stolen more than $44 million from the Attorney General’s Office budget.

The motive for the students’ abduction remains a subject of debate.

On Sept. 26, 2014, local police from Iguala, members of organized crime and authorities abducted 43 students from buses. The students periodically commandeered buses for their transportation.

Murillo Karam claimed the students were turned over to a drug gang who killed them, incinerated their bodies at a dump in nearby Cocula and tossed the burned bone fragments into a river.

Later investigations by independent experts and the Attorney General’s Office, and corroborated by the truth commission, have dismissed the idea that the bodies were incinerated at the Cocula dump.

There has been no evidence that any of the students could still be alive.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Man charged in migrant shooting was detention center warden

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of two Texas brothers who authorities say opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring another, was warden at a detention facility with a history of abuse allegations. The shooting happened Tuesday in rural Hudspeth County about 90 miles (145 kilometers) […]
14 hours ago
FILE - People visit a makeshift memorial honoring the victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in...
Associated Press

Vegas survivors signal hope even as mass shootings persist

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s been five years since carnage and death sent his family running into the night, leaving them separated and terrified as a gunman rained bullets into an outdoor country music festival crowd on the Las Vegas Strip. The memories don’t fade, they sharpen, William “Bill” Henning said as he prepared for […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Man shot several times at California youth football game

ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) — A man was shot several times on the field at a youth football game Saturday morning in Southern California, police said. Ontario police said the man was targeted and shot multiple times by suspects who fled. No one else was injured at the game at Colony High School, and there was […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

UN says detained Iranian-American was allowed to leave Iran

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An 85-year-old Iranian-American who formerly worked for the U.N. children’s agency and was detained in Iran in 2016 has been permitted to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, the United Nations said Saturday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the departure of Baquer Namazi and said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was grateful […]
14 hours ago
CORRECT NAME OF CYPRUS' PRESIDENT - Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades talks to the media, next t...
Associated Press

Minister: Greece can defend islands despite Turkey’s threats

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece has the right to take “all defensive measures” to protect its easternmost islands amid threats by neighboring Turkey that dispute Greek sovereignty rights and raise the specter of war, the Greek defense minister said Saturday. Speaking after Cyprus’ independence day military parade, Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said Turkey’s “revisionist and destabilizing […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Mexican navy helicopter crashes, killing 3 marines

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican Navy said Saturday that three marines were killed and two others were injured after a reconnaissance helicopter crashed in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco. The Navy said in a statement that the Eurocopter craft went down during an aerial surveillance patrol. Video posted on social media showed what […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Mexico arrests ex-attorney general in missing students case