The GIEI members with their final report on Ayotzinapa The GIEI members with their final report on Ayotzinapa. la jornada/Cristina Rodríguez

Ayotzinapa experts present final report

But the events of Ayotzinapa-Iguala remain a mystery still

Nearly a year after independent experts were invited to help with the investigation into the missing students of Iguala-Ayotzinapa, the truth about what really happened on the night of September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero, remains as elusive as ever.

And now those experts are heading home, “disappointed and frustrated,” and convinced that Mexican authorities are “married” to the conclusion that the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teacher training college were killed and their bodies incinerated at a garbage damp.

That finding was announced by the Attorney General’s office late in 2014 and confirmed early in 2015, when it was labeled the “historic truth” by then Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam.

But the Group of Interdisciplinary Independent Experts, known as the GIEI, rejected that conclusion in its first report, released last September.

That, said the five-member group of lawyers and human rights experts in their second and final report, released Sunday, marked a turning point. From then on, they claim, federal authorities blocked their investigation by denying access to officials and information.

The official theory is that the students had traveled to the city of Iguala on September 26 to disrupt an official municipal event. The mayor and his wife, now in jail in connection with the events of that night, allegedly ordered their capture by municipal police.

The latter, in turn, hunted the students down, killing some in the process, and turned them over to the Guerreros Unidos crime gang which, believing at least some of the students were members of a rival gang, killed them at a garbage dump in nearby Cocula.

But the GIEI concluded that there was no evidence of a fire at the dump at that time. Although a panel of fire experts reported last month that there could indeed have been a fire, the GIEI rejected its findings on the grounds that the study appeared to have been conducted without “scientific rigor.”

The Cocula fire theory relied heavily on evidence given by some of the Guerreros Unidos members arrested in connection with the case. But the GIEI questioned its reliability not just because it was criminals who gave it but for independent evidence revealing that as many as 17 of those captured, including former police officers, had been tortured while in custody.

One piece of new information that came out of the report released Sunday was that federal investigators were caught on video at the San Juan River the day before garbage bags allegedly containing ashes and remains of the students were found in the same area.

The GIEI called for an official investigation into Tomás Zerón, who heads the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigation Agency and is seen in the video with investigators gathering evidence, yet the case file made no reference to the activities on that day.

The group of experts also alleged that it wasn’t only Iguala and Cocula municipal police who had been involved in the hunt for the students, but those of the nearby city of Huitzuco and Federal Police as well.

They found evidence of roadblocks in an 80-kilometer radius of Iguala, presumably designed to ensure the students didn’t escape.

In response to its final report, the Attorney General’s office thanked the GIEI for its work, and said it would analyze the new video evidence from the San Juan River. Deputy Attorney General Eber Omar Betanzos also said the allegations of torture are being investigated.

The experts’ group joined the investigation under the auspices of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on the invitation of the Mexican government. Its initial contract was extended once, to expire April 30. The government rejected suggestions that it be renewed a second time.

This week, the five experts are preparing to return home — they come from Chile, Guatemala, Colombia and Spain — but they’re not happy to be leaving. “We are very disappointed and frustrated,” said Alejandro Valencia, “and above all we are worried about what awaits Mexico in terms of access to justice.”

Mexicans, meanwhile, are left to wonder still what happened to the 43 students and why they were attacked in September 2014.

Mexico News Daily

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