Mexican authorities have arrested a retired general and two members of the military for allegedly links to the disappearance of 43 students in the south of the country in 2014.
Among those arrested was the former officer who commanded the army base in Iguala city, Guerrero state, in September 2014, when students from the extremist Teachers College were kidnapped, Assistant Public Safety Minister Ricardo Mejia said.
Mejia said a fourth arrest was expected soon. A government official familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that another army member had been arrested.
Mejia did not name the detainees, but the commander of the Iguala base at the time was José Rodríguez Perez, who was then a colonel. Barely a year after the students disappeared – and after families had already grown up Doubts about military involvement He demanded access to the base – Rodríguez was promoted to brigadier general.
The government official confirmed the arrest of Rodriguez Perez and said he was being held at a military base. The source said that two of the other detainees were officers and the third was a conscript.
Last month, the government truth commission that re-investigated the case released a report that said Rodriguez Perez was responsible for the disappearance of six students.
Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez, who led the commission, said last month that six of the missing students had been kept alive in a warehouse for several days before being handed over to Rodriguez Perez, who ordered their deaths.
The report had described cases of disappearances a ‘state crime’, stressing that the authorities were closely monitoring the students from the Ayotzinaba Teachers College since they left the campus until they were kidnapped by the Iguala police that night. Among the kidnapped students was a soldier who infiltrated the school, and Encinas said the military did not follow its own protocols to try to rescue him.
“There is also corroborating information in the emergency…phone calls where six of the 43 disappeared students are allegedly being held over several days and alive in what they call the old warehouse and from there they were handed over to the colonel,” Encinas said. It is claimed that the six students They were alive for up to four days After the events, they were killed and disappeared by order of the colonel, who was allegedly then Colonel José Rodríguez Perez.”
Several government and independent investigations have failed to produce a single conclusive account of what happened to the 43 students, but it appears that the local police stopped them from buses in Iguala and handed them over to a drug gang. The motive behind the kidnapping remains unclear. Their bodies were never found, although the charred bone fragments of three of the students matched.
The role of the military in the disappearance of students has long been a source of tension between families and the government. From the start, there were questions about the military’s knowledge of what happened and its possible involvement. The students’ parents have demanded for years that they be allowed to search the army base in Iguala. They weren’t allowed access to Encinas and the Truth Commission until 2019.
Shortly after the commission’s report, the attorney general’s office announced 83 arrest warrants, of which 20 were for members of the military. Then federal agents arrested Jesús Murillo Karam, who was the attorney general at the time.
Suspicions grew in the weeks following the failure to announce the arrests.
President’s administration Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Formed a close public relationship with the military. Lopez Obrador has pushed to move the newly created National Guard under full military authority, and his allies in Congress are trying to extend the time it takes the military to continue the role of police on the streets until 2028.
On Thursday, Mejia also rejected any suggestion that Jose Luis Abarca, who was mayor of Iguala at the time, be released after a judge absolved him of responsibility for the student’s kidnapping based on a lack of evidence. Even without the aggravated kidnapping charge, Abarca still faces other charges of organized crime and money laundering, and Mejia said the judge’s latest decision would be appealed. Similarly, the judge acquitted 19 others, including the man who was the Iguala police chief at the time.