MEXICO CITY (AP) — More than two months after they disappeared, concrete evidence is beginning to emerge on the fate of 43 college students whose case has caused a political crisis in Mexico.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed Sunday that one of the students has been identified among charred remains found several weeks ago near a garbage dump. He said the student is Alexander Mora, based on material extracted from a bone fragment and analyzed by forensics experts at a laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria.
Relatives and fellow students at the Rural Normal School in Ayotzinapa said experts on Friday had told them of the DNA match with Mora, a teenage farmer whose classmates called him “The Rock” for his determination.
“He was a classmate who was very strong, very persevering in whatever he had as a goal,” said student leader Omar Garcia. “It’s a big loss.”
The identification confirmed what Murillo Karam told parents in November: that the students rounded up in a conflict with police had been killed and incinerated by a drug gang. Horror, hope — and the lack of positively identified remains — led parents to discount the story, saying they would keep searching and expected to find their children alive.
Some 17 samples of remains were sent to Austria and the first confirmation came on Thursday, Murrillo Karam said.
He said 80 people have been arrested so far, including 44 police officers from Iguala and neighboring Cocula, where the remains were found. He said the investigation continues.
The families were given the information by an Argentine team of forensic experts working on behalf of the relatives and with the Attorney General’s Office, relatives said. Mora’s parents were surrounded by members of the school community in their hometown of El Pericon in an area of southern Guerrero state known as the Costa Chica.
Garcia said they received the news “with a lot of courage, valor, dignity and determination.”
“When his father, Ezequiel, heard the news, the only thing he told us is that he wants justice,” Garcia added.
Parents of the missing marched with thousands of people Saturday evening in a previously planned protest in Mexico City, descending from buses with sullen faces, most declining to speak to reporters.
“The parents will not rest until we have justice,” said Felipe de la Cruz, father of one of the missing students, who noted that only one of the 43 has been identified.
“If they think one confirmation will leave us simply to mourn, they’re wrong,” he said.
The students went missing Sept. 26 after confrontations with police in Iguala that killed three students and three bystanders. Murillo Karam has said they were attacked by police on orders of Iguala’s then mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, who has since been detained after going into hiding. The case also forced the governor of Guerrero to resign.
The attorney general said on Nov. 7 that some detainees had told officials that they burned the 43 bodies at a dump site and threw their bagged-up ashes in a river.
The case has ignited indignation across Mexico and abroad over the fact that the students disappeared at the hands of a corrupt local government and that federal authorities took 10 days to intervene.
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets, some calling for President Enrique Pena Nieto to resign. The case has come to signify an engrained abuse of authority and corruption.
Marching to the protest site Saturday, people filled streets in central Mexico City shouting, “Justice,” ”We want them alive,” and “Pena out.”
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