17 Holes In Mexico's Official Account Of The Missing Students Case
Experts say the government's version of events is riddled with conflicting testimonies, tainted evidence and coerced confessions.
Posted: 08/04/2015 02:24 PM EDT | Edited: 08/04/2015 03:05 PM EDT
Demonstrators and relatives of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa college march during a protest rally ten months after the students disappearance on July 26, 2015 in Mexico City. | Credit: Miguel Tovar/STF via Getty Images
Police in riot gear chase students of the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa after they tried to reach the city of Chilpancingo to protest, June 3, 2015. | Credit: Alejandrino Gonzalez/Associated Press
- Students who survived the attacks that night said they saw federal police at the scene.
- In cellphone footage recorded by students on one bus attacked that night, someone can be heard shouting out: “The police [municipal forces] are leaving! The federales [federal forces] are staying, they’re going to want to mess with us.” The footage is too dark to identify the attackers or their uniforms.
- Magistrate Judge Bernabé García said the students never came to Iguala’s municipal police station, where he was stationed throughout the night of the attacks. García is wanted by Mexico in connection with the attacks, and is now seeking asylum in the U.S.
- Records uncovered by investigative journalists Anabel Hernández and Steve Fisher appear to show that federal forces were made aware of the attacks that night. A command center that is used by military, federal and local security forces, called the Center of Control, Command, Communications and Computation, or C4, was monitoring the students’ movements from the moment they left their college and communications show that the first attack was reported to the center.
- Federal forces were patrolling the streets that night. Military logs obtained by Mexican magazine Proceso showed the 27th Battalion’s Reaction Force came across the wounded students at a hospital, but did not report any unusual activity to their superiors.
- Hernández and Fisher obtained medical records suggesting that key witnesses, including cartel members and over two dozen municipal police officers, were beaten and given electric shocks in order to extract their confessions.
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is now looking into the case, said they heard “numerous” accounts of abuse and torture from the suspects and that at least a dozen detainees have lodged complaints of torture or due process violations with Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.
- While it’s not uncommon to have conflicting testimonies in complex investigations, Hernandez and Fisher obtained the depositions and confessions from the federal probe, and found that they contradict each other over basic facts like when and how the students were abducted.
A group of masked residents and parents of missing students from Ayotzinapa walk through the town center of Tixtla during a protest on June 7, 2015. | Credit: Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press
- Pineda’s political event was already finished two hours before the first attack took place.
- Mexican authorities have had trouble getting charges to stick against Pineda. She is charged with links to organized crime, but other charges connected to the missing students have been thrown out for lack of evidence. Abarca was charged with the kidnapping of the students, but denies the allegations.
- Another investigation by Proceso found serious inconsistencies in the case against Abarca, and doubts about the credibility of the main witness against Pineda.
- It is not clear how the Guerreros Unidos members misidentified the students as members of a rival gang. The leader of Guerreros Unidos claimed that the students had been infiltrated by Los Rojos members, but his confession was riddled with inconsistencies, including placing the students in Iguala several hours before they actually arrived. The Ayotzinapa students and victims' families strongly deny that the students had anything to do with the cartel.
A woman paints the silhouette of a girl during a protest to demand the safe return of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa, on June 26, 2015 in Mexico City. | Credit: Manuel Velasquez/STR via Getty Images
- The victims’ families insisted that an independent party join the investigation, and the government agreed to work with a team of forensic experts from Argentina. However, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) strongly criticized the government for not notifying them before they extracted the bone fragment and other evidence from the site, so that they could confirm the "chain of custody" of the evidence -- a critical forensic procedure to establish the origin and authenticity of evidence.
- The EAAF released pictures showing several fires burning at the site since 2010, meaning the charred evidence of a huge fire on the site could date from an earlier time.
- The EAAF also said the site was left unguarded for three weeks after the remains were found there, leaving the possibility that evidence could have been compromised.
- Residents said it was raining that night in the area, which would have impeded such a huge fire. Mexican authorities dismissed the reports, saying at most “isolated showers” took place.
- The government said no one would have witnessed the fire because it was at such a remote site. But flight records show that a helicopter searched the area that night, but saw no plume of smoke, according to The Intercept.
- Mexican scientists said it would not have been possible to burn that number of bodies in that amount of space in such a short period of time.
More from HuffPost on the 43 Mexican students:
- The Missing Mexican Students Case Is Not Closed For 43 Families
- Leading Mexican Journalist Explains Why Everything You're Hearing About The Drug War Is Wrong
- Report: Mexico Tortured Police For Confessions In 43 Students Case
- Damning Report Claims Mexican Federal Police Participated In Disappearance Of 43 Students
- Parents Of 43 Missing Students Ask Not To Be Forgotten Over The Holidays
- The Disappearance Of 43 Students In Mexico Is An Atrocity, But It's No Isolated Incident