Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam declared at a press conference yesterday that it is “a legal certainty” and “historical truth” that all 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher college were kidnapped, killed and incinerated on September 26 and 27 in Iguala and Cocula, Guerrero.
The version of events offered yesterday is not much different from that which Murillo presented in November, but it has been corroborated by testimony given by the Guerreros Unidos gang leader captured January 15.
The head of criminal investigations in the Attorney General’s office, Tomás Zerón, told the press conference that Felipe Rodríguez Salgado’s testimony also revealed that gang members were motivated by the belief that the students, or some of them at least, were members of a rival gang called Los Rojos.
One additional piece of information provided by Rodríguez, and which surfaced yesterday, was that the director of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college was paid by Los Rojos to send students to Iguala on September 26 to create “chaos.”
Before killing the students, Rodríguez said he interviewed one who told him of the payment by Los Rojos to school director José Luis Hernández Rivera.
A response by the director has not been published.
In the conference yesterday, which was accompanied by video and slides, Zerón offered evidence to back up the conclusion that the students’ bodies were incinerated, something that has been challenged by scientists at the National Autonomous University (UNAM).
Zerón described the area at the Cocula garbage dump as a hollow in which prevailing winds would feed a contained fire with oxygen and create a large oven. He said the high temperatures had had physical and chemical effects that scientists decided were evidence of temperatures as high as 1,600 C.
The Institute of Biology at UNAM has confirmed that plants in the area had been subjected to extreme heat.
The remains of tires, evidence of gasoline and diesel, melted aluminum and rocks that had been fractured by the heat were also found.
But family members of the missing students will continue their search in spite of the Attorney General’s conclusions, said spokesman Felipe de la Cruz at a press conference last night, because “there is no scientific proof” that they are dead.
DNA testing by the University of Innsbruck in Austria has only identified one student from the remains it was sent by the Attorney General, and the likelihood of further identifications being made appears slim due to the heat to which the remains were exposed.
De la Cruz also remarked on the presence of police and soldiers, “who have carpeted” the state of Guerrero. “Here comes the repression,” he said in an interview with Radio Fórmula.
He had little to say about the testimony regarding the payment by Los Rojos to the director of the teachers’ college, observing only that Hernández Rivera has little contact with the parents of the missing students and never leaves the school.
“Because he’s a good friend of the (state) governor, who knows what role he’s playing.”
The parents plan to make a formal complaint to human rights officials at the United Nations next week.
Ninety-nine people are in custody in connection with the case, which began when the mayor of Iguala allegedly ordered police to round up Ayotzinapa students to prevent their disrupting a speech that night by his wife. The now ex-mayor and his wife are among those in custody.
The Attorney General said today the case is not closed; others believed to have been involved remain at large.