Mexican journalist releases probe of missing students' case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2016 4:20 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican journalist released documents Saturday from an internal affairs investigation that criticizes the government's handling of the case of 43 missing students who prosecutors claim were incinerated by a drug gang in 2014.

The documents are from an August investigation by the internal affairs division of the Attorney General's Office.

The documents released by Anabel Hernandez say that the arrests of about a half-dozen key suspects were illegally carried out.

Some of the suspects had their rights violated, and many "spontaneously confessed" in suspiciously similar language of participating in killing the students, burning their bodies or disposing of them remains.

Those suspects gave some of the first testimony about the garbage dump and river where the students were supposedly burned, and the charred fragments of their bodies were dumped.

A DNA match between one of those fragments and one of the students, and a partial match to another, represent almost the only physical evidence of the students' fate.

The Attorney General's Office has said the documents do not represent a formal, finished investigation and lack official validity. The investigator who prepared the report has since reportedly resigned.

Prosecutors' behavior in examining suspects, the crime scene and the handling the evidence had previously been questioned by a panel of international experts.

The Associated Press and other media outlets had previously reported claims by some of the suspects that they had been tortured by police or military personnel.

Should the case against the suspects fall apart because of prosecutorial misconduct, it would represent a major setback for authorities in one of the most highly-publicized cases of drug war violence in Mexico's recent history.

Authorities have said the students had hijacked buses in the southern Mexico city of Iguala in late September 2014 when they were intercepted by local police.

The police, allegedly working in alliance the Guerreros Unidos drug, turned the students over to gang members who allegedly killed and incinerated them. Experts have questioned whether so many bodies could have been burned at the dump.