A former Mexican attorney general has been arrested and warrants issued for 83 soldiers and army officers over the notorious disappearance of 43 students in 2014.
Jesús Murillo was arrested at his home in Mexico City on charges of enforced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the kidnapping and disappearance of student teachers in the southwestern state of Guerrero.
The attorney general’s office also issued 83 more arrest warrants for soldiers, police, Guerrero officials and gang members in connection with the case.
Murillo served as attorney general from 2012 to 2015 under then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, during which he oversaw the much-criticized investigation into the September 26, 2014, disappearance of students from the College of Rural Teachers in Ayotzinapa.
The remains of only three students have been found and identified, and the case has haunted Mexico ever since.
Murillo announced in 2014 that the students had been killed and burned in a dump by a drug gang, but the investigation allegedly used torture, improper arrests and mishandling of evidence, leading to most of the suspects went free.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in 2018 and promised to clarify what had happened. His administration has been trying to arrest another former senior official, Tomas Zeron, since 2020, including asking Israel to extradite him last year.
Prosecutors said Murillo cooperated “without resistance.”
It comes a day after Mexico’s top human rights official, Alejandro Encinas, called the disappearance a “state crime” involving local, state and federal officials.
“What happened? A forced disappearance of the boys that night by government authorities and criminal groups,” Encinas said at a press conference.
Encinas said the highest levels of Peña Nieto’s administration orchestrated the cover-up, including altering crime scenes and concealing links between authorities and criminals.
Murillo took over the case in 2014 and called the government’s findings the “historical truth.”
According to this version, a local drug gang mistook the students for members of a rival gang before killing them, incinerating their bodies in a landfill and then dumping the remains in a river.
However, a group of international experts poked holes in the account and the United Nations reported arbitrary detentions and torture during the investigation.
The phrase “historical truth” became synonymous with the perception of corruption and impunity under Mr. Peña Nieto.
The lawyer for the parents of the Ayotzinapa students, Vidulfo Rosales, asked the government to make more arrests.
“There is still a lot to be done before we can think that this case has been solved,” Rosales told Mexican television.