The “historical truth” in the case of the 43 students who disappeared in Guerrero in 2014 has been partially corroborated by yet another study of the garbage dump where their bodies are believed to have been incinerated.
A six-week investigation by six fire experts — two from Mexico, three from the United States and one from Peru — found there was sufficient evidence to confirm there was a large, controlled fire at the Cocula garbage dump in September 2014.
In its report to the Attorney General, delivered yesterday, the group of fire experts also said the bodies of at least 17 adults were burned at the site and that weather and other circumstances indicate it was possible that 43 bodies had been incinerated there.
Another investigation on a much larger scale would be required to confirm the latter, the experts said.
Their study is the third to be conducted at the Cocula dump site by independent investigators, but is the first to concur with the initial findings of the Attorney General’s office.
Those findings, termed “the historical truth” in early 2015 by then-attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam, were debunked by the Interdisciplinary Group of Experts (GIEI) and then by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team.
The GIEI concluded in a report last September that there was no fire at the dump, and reiterated its findings in December, citing satellite imagery and weather records that showed there had been rain, although it was recorded some 22 kilometers away.
“The investigation has proved there were no fires at the Cocula dump,” said group member Alejandro Valencia.
The group also urged Mexican authorities to call off the most recent Cocula investigation and concentrate resources on searching elsewhere for the missing students.
The GIEI’s rejection of the official findings was followed by that of the Argentine forensic team. It, too, declared there had not been a fire of sufficient intensity to incinerate the bodies.
The two reports generated widespread criticism of the authorities, Murillo Karam in particular, for their handling of the investigation into the students’ disappearance, which began with a night of shootings in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26 and 27.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the missing students, who attended a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, were detained by Iguala municipal police and turned over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel, members of which killed those that were not already dead and burned the bodies.
Federal investigators concluded their motive for doing so was based on the belief that the students were members of a rival gang, Los Rojos.
Among the authors of yesterday’s report was Peruvian José Luis Torero, who did a study of the Cocula dump last year for the GIEI. He concluded then that the fire could not have happened, saying there was no evidence at all that there had been a fire large enough to burn even a single body.
Other members of the team were Ricardo Damián Torres and Mario Saldaña of Mexico and John DeHaan, Frederick Mowrer and James Quintiere of the U.S.