Mexico on Friday captured a former top prosecutor who headed the heavily criticized investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in 2014, on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice.
Jesus Murillo Karam is the highest official arrested so far as regards the case, which shocked the nation and the world.
The former attorney general is portrayed to be the brain behind the so-called “historical truth” version of events reported in 2015 by the government of then-president Enrique Pena Nieto, which was widely declined, including by relatives. The present President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reopened the investigation briefly after his election in 2018.
Murillo, a former heavyweight of the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who resides in the Mexico City area, was nabbed outside his home, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office. Murillo held the post of attorney general from 2012 – 2015.
The 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in the southwest state of Guerrero went missing as they were travelling by bus to a demonstration.
Investigators stated that they were detained by corrupt police and handed over to a drug cartel which mistook them for members of a rival gang, but exactly what happened to them has been hotly debated.
According to the official 2015 report, cartel members killed the students and burnt their remains at a waste dumpsite, but those conclusions were debunked by the families as well as independent experts and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
International experts berated the official inquiry as riddled with errors and abuses.
Murillo’s arraignment comes a day after Mexico’s top human rights official, Alejandro Encinas, called the students’ disappearance a “state crime” and that the military was partially responsible, either directly or through negligence.
“Their actions, omissions or participation allowed the disappearance and execution of the students, as well as the murder of six other people,” stated that Encinas, who is also deputy interior minister.
Encinas also disclosed that the highest levels of Pena Nieto’s administration orchestrated a cover-up in the aftermath of the incident.
Lopez Obrador has on Friday said that any soldiers and officials involved in the disappearance must face justice.
“Publicizing this atrocious, inhuman situation, and at the same time punishing those responsible, helps to prevent these deplorable events ever happening again” and “strengthens institutions,” the president said.
“We said from the beginning that we were going to speak the truth, no matter how painful it was,” he informed reporters during a trip to the northwestern border city of Tijuana.