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The former mayor of Iguala and his wife prior to their arrest in 2014. The former mayor of Iguala and his wife prior to their arrest in 2014.

The Ayotzinapa prison exodus: Iguala’s once-imperial couple could be next

Only one outstanding charge is keeping the former mayor and his wife in jail

The former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, and his wife – the alleged masterminds of the abduction of the 43 students who disappeared and were presumably killed in 2014 – could soon be released from prison.

Only one federal criminal charge is keeping José Luis Abarca Velázquez and María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa in the Altiplano federal prison in México state and the federal women’s prison in Amacuzac, Morelos, respectively, the newspaper Milenio reported.

The ex-mayor and his wife, formerly known as the Imperial Couple of Iguala, have been exonerated of all other charges of which they were accused by prosecutors in the previous federal government.

Federal officials told Milenio that the one outstanding accusation against the couple is a 2017 charge relating to participation in organized crime and operations with resources of illicit origin.

Abarca and Pineda were both allegedly complicit with the Guerreros Unidos crime gang which, according to the previous government’s “historical truth,” killed the 43 students and burned their bodies in a municipal dump.

The charge against the couple, however, is based on testimony from three witnesses whose declarations were ruled invalid by a Tamaulipas-based judge because they were obtained through the use of torture.

Gildardo López Astudillo, who was allegedly the Guerreros Unidos plaza chief in Iguala at the time of the students’ disappearance, other gang members and 24 municipal police officers suspected of involvement in the case were recently released from prison because judges ruled that the evidence against them was obtained by illegal means, including torture.

An application for the release of Abarca and Pineda on the same grounds will be made in the coming days, Milenio said.

The newspaper also reported that a state-based charge against the former mayor for involvement in the 2013 abduction and murder of Arturo Hernández Cardona, who was the leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Party in Guerrero, is “hanging by a thread.”

Four other people accused of the crime have already been released from prison due to a lack of evidence.

Human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas said on September 4 that the release of López Astudillo set a “grave precedent” that could lead to other suspects in the Iguala case being freed, while this week he charged that the acquittal and release of municipal police officers detained in connection with the disappearance of the students was a sign of the “wretchedness and rot” of Mexico’s justice system.

Encinas said that Judge Samuel Ventura Ramos had made “a mockery of justice” by absolving the officers and warned that Abarca could also be exonerated for his alleged involvement in the disappearance of the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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