More Doubt Cast Over Mexico Student Massacre Story

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Almost four months after the massacre of 43 students in Guerrero, independent forensic scientists now report that the bodies could not have been burned at a trash dump in Cocula, undermining the government’s account.

The forensic analysis, conducted by scientists from Mexico’s national university UNAM, showed that vegetation at the site had not been burned, calling into question the idea a fire had taken place that supposedly reached 1600° C.

The scientists also highlighted how the perpetrators of the massacre would have had to drag the bodies down a canyon into the trash dump, leaving blood, pieces of flesh and other DNA evidence on the ground.

Past analyses have found that the fire would have required 33 tons of firewood, or 995 rubber tires, which could not have fit in the trash dump.

Insight Crime Analysis

At a press conference in November, the government said that local police, on orders from the mayor of Iguala, apprehended trucks carrying students from nearby Cocula to a protest in Iguala. The police allegedly then handed them over to members of the Guerreros Unidos criminal group, who brought them to the landfill, killed them, burned the bodies and dumped the ashes in a nearby river.

The former mayor and his wife, three leaders of the Guerreros Unidos, and 92 others have been arrested in connection with the case, bringing the total arrest count to 97.

While the government has tried to make their investigation into the massacre more transparent — one autopsy in December 2014 was filmed and the results made publically available — information has arisen giving reason to doubt the official account.

A December 2014 investigation by the magazine Proceso showed that federal police were in Iguala at the time of the massacre, and participated in shooting at the students.

Meanwhile, the university investigation adds weight to speculation that the bodies were burnt at an army crematorium. The government has previously claimed that federal police and military personnel were not involved in the massacre. 

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