Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam has announced that the 28 burned dead bodies recently found in five mass graves near Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero were not of the 43 students who went missing three weeks ago.
At a press conference on Tuesday October 14th, Murillo said that the bodies found in the first set of mass graves did not correspond to the students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training School, who disappeared after a confrontation with Iguala’s local police that caused six deaths.
But the families of the missing students have not been officially informed of the result of the DNA tests yet.
Families are very frustrated that they are being “kept in the dark”, and they continue to demonstrate outside the Guerrero state government complex.
One forensic expert who works with federal investigators said charred remains like those recovered at the first mass grave sites found outside Iguala can leave very little DNA for testing.
“If a bone is burned at more than 300 degrees, it’s almost impossible to identify because the collagen is burned. That is one of the main reasons criminal organisations started to adopt that technique.” declared Jorge Arturo Talavera, head of the bio-archaeology team at the Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.
He said the way the remains are exhumed also can affect identification. “If they are pulled out in a hurried manner, other identifying articles like jewelry or teeth might get discarded“.
Experts still are testing remains recovered from other mass burial sites found near Iguala, but they have not given information on what was found there.
Murillo said that the authorities were able to locate the second set of mass graves from information gleaned from the interrogations of people detained for suspected involvement in the case.
After no bodies were found in those graves, Murillo announced that they have found a third set of graves which were being excavated.
The attorney general also said that his office would request an arrest warrant for Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca and his Public Security Secretary Felipe Flores, who have been missing since the events.
On September 26, Iguala police opened fire on a group of teacher trainees who were hijacking buses, killing six people and wounding 25. After the shootings, at least 43 students were taken away by the police and they have not been seen since.
“The intention is to continue with the investigation and arrest the remaining people, but the most important thing is to identify and arrest the masterminds,” Murillo said.
He stressed that authorities had already arrested most of the people believed responsible, but they wanted to find out who ordered it.
According to Murillo, new lines of investigation were bringing them closer to that end.
At the same press conference, Criminal Investigation Agency Director Tomas Zeron de Lucio said that the arrest of 14 police officers from the nearby town of Cocula was linked to the case of the missing students.
He said that 14 policemen had confessed to participating in the kidnapping of the students and turning them over to a criminal gang known as “Guerreros Unidos”.
Last week, federal security forces took control of Iguala to help in the search for the students and to bring those responsible before justice.
A total of 50 people have been arrested so far in the investigation, most of them Iguala municipal police officers.
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