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Mexico's former Attorney General charged in connection with 43 missing students

The AG’s arrest coincided with charges against police officers and Mexican military soldiers

August 20, 2022 11:37am

Updated: August 20, 2022 11:38am

Mexico’s former Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam, has been arrested in connection to a 2014 incident in which 43 students disappeared. Reports indicate that numerous police officers and even some military soldiers were also arrested.

The former top prosecutor, who was previously in charge of an inquiry into the matter, charged with torture, forced disappearance and obstruction of justice. The 43 students disappeared while in transit on a bus through the city of Iguala on their way to participate in a political demonstration being held in Mexico City.

Police were initially able to recover bone fragments from three of the students, but had difficulty obtaining other physical evidence. Authorities were able to determine that local municipal police had opened fire on the buses on Sept. 26, but multiple, conflicting accounts have clouded what followed.

The students vanishing made global news headlines and resulted in nationwide demonstrations that accused the government of engaging in state sponsored terrorism.

Murillo Karam, who was detained on Friday, was previously in charge of a highly sensitive 2015 investigation into the students’ disappearance, which attributed the missing person cases to cartel crime,  blaming members of a syndicate who were eventually accused of murder.

The former attorney general’s findings, which were recognized by former President Enrique Peña Nieto, were scrutinized by the victims’ families and independent experts who suspected state involvement in the crimes.

In a tweet, Murillo Karam’s political allies in the oppositional Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), attributed the arrest to political gamesmanship.

Detectives hunting the killers are currently operating under the theory that local police officials abducted the students and placed them in the custody of a local drug cartel who mistakenly believed they were members of a rival criminal organization.

On Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s truth commission said it believed some soldiers were at least partially responsibility for the killings.

"Their actions, omissions or participation allowed the disappearance and execution of the students," said Alejandro Encinas, Mexico's deputy interior minister and the commission’s head. He added it was unknown at this time to what extent the military was involved.