Monday, March 4, 2024

Independent group of experts to continue investigating Ayotzinapa

A group of independent experts will continue to investigate the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 after the federal government agreed to its ongoing participation in the case.

The decision came after a meeting Monday between Deputy Interior Minister for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas and Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, head of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). It established the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) in November 2014 to conduct an investigation into the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero, which had occurred a month earlier on September 26.

Encinas said President López Obrador is committed to the GIEI’s ongoing participation until there are conclusive results in the case. The previous government refused to renew the group’s mandate after it was critical of its investigation, but the current administration allowed it to resume its probe.

The current federal government rejected its predecessor’s “historical truth” about what happened on the night of September 26 — that corrupt municipal police intercepted and handed the students over to a crime gang that killed them and burned their bodies in a dump. López Obrador’s government launched a new investigation shortly after taking office in late 2018.

The remains of just three students have been found and formally identified.

Ayotzinapa case parents meet with Group of Independent Experts
A representative of the Group of Independent Experts, right, meets with parents of the kidnapped Ayotzinapa students in 2015. The group was formed with parents’ approval. File photo

Arosemena acknowledged the federal government’s political will to resolve the case, noting that it created a truth commission to conduct a fresh investigation into the students’ disappearance. However, the government has not yet publicly given its own definitive version of events.

The IACHR chief renewed the commission’s commitment to contribute to the government’s investigation.

Meanwhile, a key suspect in the case was detained last weekend almost three years after he was released, the newspaper Milenio reported.

Patricio Reyes Landa, also known as “El Pato” (The Duck), was identified as a perpetrator of the crime and provided evidence to support the former government’s official version of events after his arrest in 2014. He even confessed to killing some of the Ayotzinapa students.

However, he was released in October 2018 after a judge ruled that 83 statements made by suspects in the case were obtained illegally via torture and other inhumane treatment. In addition, a judge ruled that there was a lack of evidence to prove “El Pato” was a member of the Guerreros Unidos, the crime gang that allegedly killed the 43 students.

Patricio "El Pato" Reyes Landa
Patricio “El Pato” Reyes Landa was arrested in 2014 and confessed to involvement in the 2014 kidnapping but was released in 2018.

But he was released again on Tuesday. His arrest, it turned out, had nothing to do with the Ayotzinapa case — he had been carrying an illegal weapon, a crime that doesn’t merit preventative custody.

Scores of people accused of involvement in the students’ disappearance, including municipal police and alleged gangsters, have been released from prison after judges ruled they were illegally detained or subjected to torture.

Deputy Minister Encinas has previously described the release of suspects as “very regrettable” and a sign of the “wretchedness and rot” of Mexico’s justice system.

With reports from Milenio

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