Experts Debunk Mexico Govt’s Version of Disappeared Students Case

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Based on new analysis of evidence, the panel of experts tasked with reviewing Mexico’s Iguala case has reiterated that the 43 students who disappeared in 2014 could not have been burned in a trash dump, as the government has claimed. 

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes – GIEI) analyzed new scientific evidence that shows a fire did not occur in the trash dump during the days when the students were allegedly killed and then incinerated, the panel said.  

According to the Attorney General’s original story, local police had stopped buses carrying student protestors and then handed the students over to a local criminal gang, the Guerreros Unidos. According to the government’s official narrative, the Guerreros Unidos then took the students to a trash dump in the municipality of Cocula, where they killed and burned them.

The GIEI’s study, requested by the Attorney General and conducted in September 2015, analyzed meteorological data on Cocula during the dates of the disappearances, September 26-27, 2014, reported El Universal. Along with satellite records and photographs, the meteorological data showed that it rained in the Iguala region during this time period, and that there were no fires detected in Cocula at the time.

The GIEI was appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and is made up of five judicial experts from across Latin America.

InSight Crime Analysis

The GIEI previously released an extensive report on the Iguala case in September, in which they concluded that — based on an analysis of how long it would take and how much firepower was needed to burn 43 bodies — the students could not have been burned in the Cocula trash dump. This additional analysis of satellite photos and meteorological data is another nail in the coffin of this theory.  

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Moving forward, the GIEI reiterated that the Mexican government needs to start seriously pursuing other lines of investigation, now that the Guerreros Unidos trash dump story has been fully debunked. According to the GIEI, this should include re-interviewing members of the military who were present that night, during the initial clash between students and police, and who have been identified as important witnesses.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office has already conducted interviews with at least 11 military officials, without allowing members of the GIEI panel to be present. The GIEI has recommended that these interviews be repeated, as the testimony compiled thus far leaves many questions unanswered, and it is unclear what questions the Attorney General’s Office asked the witnesses. 

Some Mexican researchers have theorized that the missing students were burned in either a military or privately owned crematorium. Members of the GIEI have said that looking into this theory is an important line of inquiry for the investigation. 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights-backed panel presents their findings regarding Mexico’s Iguala case.

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