Sat, Oct 11, 2014 - Page 7 News List

New burial pits found in Mexico

MISSING MAYOR:The Iguala city leader said to have family ties to regional gangs sought a 30-day leave of absence days after 43 students disappeared on Sept. 26

AFP, IGUALA, Mexico

The case of 43 Mexican students missing since an alleged attack by gang-linked police took another grim turn on Thursday with the discovery of new mass graves where suspects said some were buried.

Four new suspects took investigators to the site of the four pits, 200km south of Mexico City, but the number of bodies remains unknown, said Mexican federal Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam.

“They say there are remains of students,” Murillo Karam said, adding that some of the bodies appeared burned.

The discovery has put another dent on hopes of finding the students alive almost two weeks after they were pursued by Iguala police officers accused of working in tandem with the Guerreros Unidos gang.

The pits are “relatively” close to the location of another mass grave found last weekend in the southern state of Guerrero that contained at least 28 unidentified bodies, the attorney general said.

Two alleged hitmen confessed to executing 17 of the students and dumping them in the mass grave found on Saturday last week, authorities have said.

They added that it would take at least two weeks to identify the bodies through DNA analysis.

The case has outraged Mexicans, who held protests across the nations Wednesday to demand the return of the students, in a nation that has lost tens of thousands of people to drug violence since 2006.

Authorities say corrupt officers shot at buses the students had “seized” to return home on Sept. 26, sparking a night of violence that left six people dead, 25 wounded and 43 missing.

Surveillance cameras showed several students being taken away in patrol cars.

Murillo Karam said there are several lines of investigation into the motive, but that the city’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and the public security director are wanted for questioning.

The trio have apparently gone into hiding.

The mayor’s wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, is the sister of two former members of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, which founded the Guerreros Unidos.

Murillo Karam did not say why the mayor and his entourage were being sought.

However, Mexican media outlets, citing an intelligence services report, say Abarca’s wife asked police to confront the students because she feared that they would interrupt a speech she was giving that night.

The mayor then reportedly told the police chief to teach a lesson to the students, who are from a teacher training college known for fomenting radical political movements.

The students say they were in Iguala to raise funds, though they had commandeered the buses to return home, a common practice among the radical aspiring teachers, according to authorities.

IMMUNITY REMOVED

Guerrero chief prosecutor Inaky Blanco said authorities did not arrest Abarca before he disappeared last week because he had immunity as mayor, which was only revoked by local legislators on Thursday.

Abarca requested a 30-day leave of absence before vanishing a few days after the attacks.

Blanco said Abarca faced state charges of negligence for preferring to stay at a party and go to bed instead of stopping the violence.

The mayor “left the victims at the mercy of public security members,” Blanco said.

OFFICERS DETAINED

Four more municipal police officers have been arrested on homicide charges in the case, in addition to 22 who were detained last week.

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