Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Mexican leader vows truth in student case

AFP, MEXICO CITY

Students of Ayotzinapa teachers college hold portraits of the 43 missing students during a march from the school to Chilpancingo, Mexico, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday pledged to pursue the truth in the case of 43 students who disappeared last year, as frustrated families accused authorities of lying about what happened.

Pena Nieto spoke for almost three hours with parents of those missing in a Mexico City museum ahead of today’s first anniversary of a tragedy bedeviling his administration.

The mothers and fathers, who were almost halfway into a 43-hour fast in honor of their sons, presented eight demands to Pena Nieto in a document charging that the authorities had manufactured a “historic lie.”

Mexican presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said Pena Nieto signed the document and ordered the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, as well as the interior and foreign ministries, to analyze it.

“We are on the same side and we are working on the same goal: To know what happened to your sons and punish each and every one of those who are responsible. We are searching for the truth together,” Pena Nieto told the parents at the closed-door meeting, Sanchez said.

“The president made it very clear that the investigation remains open, it was never closed, it will not be shelved,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said Pena Nieto ordered the creation of a special prosecutor’s office to investigate the thousands of disappearances in the country, though the spokesman did not explain how it differed from a similar unit created in 2013.

“It’s cosmetic,” security expert Alejandro Hope said. “It all depends on whether there is political will and how much resources they invest into this announcement.”

The parents asked that the unit be placed under international supervision, but Sanchez said it was up to the foreign ministry to look into it.

Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer for the parents, said the president had not yet “committed to fulfilling any” of the demands and that the promises made by Pena Nieto were not new.

Rosales said the parents were “treated in a violent manner” by presidential security after the gathering, a charge that Sanchez denied.

After the meeting, only the second since the students went missing, the parents returned to the capital’s historic Zocalo square, where they had set up camp on Wednesday.

“We won’t rest, we will be a pebble in his shoes. We won’t go home,” said one mother, Maria de Jesus Tlatempa.

The attorney general’s office has come under criticism from the parents and human rights groups, which have accused it of prematurely declaring that the students were all slaughtered.

The students, from a rural teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero, disappeared after they were attacked by local police in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, last year.

Prosecutors say police then delivered the young men to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their bodies after confusing them with rivals.

The official investigation was questioned earlier this month by independent experts who said they doubted the students were burned in a funeral pyre at a garbage dump.

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