The parents of the 43 students who disappeared in Guerrero in 2014 have given President López Obrador two months to produce results or they will increase the intensity of their protests.
After a meeting on Monday with the president and other federal officials, a lawyer for the parents said that a clear message was sent to the government: police involved in the students’ disappearance and former officials who botched the investigation must face justice.
“They demanded the arrest of the people responsible,” said Vidulfo Rosales.
“There is . . . sufficient evidence to arrest several individuals, mainly former officials who participated in the events. We ask for the police officers who participated in the aggression [against the students] and the officials who carried out the investigation poorly to be arrested,” he said.
“The commitment of the government is that there will be results in January; we hope that’s the case. If not, the tone of the protests will be raised.”
Mario César González Contreras, father of one of the missing Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College students, expressed a similar sentiment, stating that if there are no arrests by January 2020, “things are going to get complicated.”
Human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas, who in September slammed the decision of a judge to release 21 municipal police officers detained in connection with the students’ disappearance, told reporters that the federal Attorney General’s Office is preparing to summon former officials who were involved in the Ayotzinapa investigation.
They include former attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam and former Criminal Investigation Agency chief Tomás Zerón, who Encinas said were among the officials who “crafted the poorly-named historical truth.”
The previous government’s “historical truth” – that the students were intercepted by corrupt municipal police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos crime gang who killed them and burned their bodies – has been widely rejected.
Encinas said the special prosecutor’s office that was given the task of conducting a new investigation into the case will present a report in December with its first findings.
He expressed disappointment that the parents of the missing students have set such a tight deadline for the government to produce results and bemoaned the release of another suspect in the case, alleged Guerreros Unidos hitman Marco Antonio Ríos Berber.
Ríos, also known as “El Cuasi,” was one of the first four people arrested in connection with the students’ disappearance. He admitted to killing the students, burning their bodies and disposing of their remains.
Ríos also said that he purchased fuel that was used to douse the students’ bodies prior to their alleged cremation. In addition, authorities in Guerrero found more than 60 photos on his phone that showed people that had been beaten, tortured, murdered and buried in hidden graves.
However, a Tamaulipas judge freed Ríos in late 2014 due to insufficient evidence and he fled to the United States, violating the conditions of his release. He was recently deported from the United States and recaptured in Mexico but a Guerrero judge released him late last month on a bail of 10,000 pesos ($520).
Encinas said that 77 of 147 people arrested in connection with the Ayotzinapa case have now been released from prison.
He described the decision of judges to release suspects as “very regrettable” and said the government hopes that no other people accused of involvement in the students’ disappearance are set free.
“We hope that the Attorney General’s Office . . . strengthens the cases . . . against the people who are [still] detained,” Encinas said.
There has been speculation that the alleged masterminds of the crime, the former mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, could be released from prison because they have been exonerated of all but one charge brought against them by prosecutors in the previous federal government.