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Roundup: March staged in Mexico to mark anniversary of student disappearance

Xinhua, September 27, 2015 Adjust font size:

Thousands of people, including close relatives of the 43 students mysteriously missing in an unsettled criminal case in southern Mexico, staged a march in Mexico City on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of the students.

On Sept. 26, 2014, the 43 students, from the teachers training college "Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa", disappeared from the public eye in Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero, reportedly after a clash with police. Six other people were reportedly killed by police during the disturbances.

Local media reports quoted Mexico's former attorney general as saying that local police illegally detained the students and then turned them over to a police-backed drug gang known as Guerreros Unidos, which then allegedly killed the students and incinerated their remains.

Reports said at least one student has been positively identified after charred remains were sent to an Austrian lab for DNA tests.

Independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have urged the Mexican authorities to investigate whether the students were attacked because one of the buses they seized may have contained drugs.

The march on Saturday set off at noon from the National Auditorium and went along the Paseo de la Reforma Avenue and ended at the Zocalo, the city's main square. Family members of the missing students demanded they be returned.

In addition to the close relatives of the missing students, people from the Coordination for Mexico's Rural Students, the National Coordination of Education Workers, democratic unions, nongovernmental organizations from all over the country and students from various universities, also took part in the march in a peaceful way, local media reported.

Even though the Mexican authorities currently have detained 111 people who had allegedly been involved in the case, the justice system has still not sentenced anyone, according to local daily Milenio.

One year after the disappearance, there has been no court decisions related to the case. Although Iguala's former mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, were allegedly the masterminds behind the operation, they haven't be declared guilty.

The suspects are awaiting trial for crimes including organized crime, kidnapping, forced disappearance, and illegal possession of weapons among others, said the Mexican Attorney General.

Among those detained are 52 officers from Iguala's municipal police, 19 from Cocula's and 40 allegedly involved in the cartel "Guerrero's Unidos" (Warriors United), according to Milenio.

The case has been complicated further by the discrepancies and a lack of evidence.

According to the official investigation, the bodies were incinerated, crushed and then thrown into a river in a rural area of Cocula, Guerrero, to hinder the identification process.

However, a contradiction against government's explanation appeared in a report published recently, which was developed under a six-month investigation by some international experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The report stated that it was scientifically impossible that the students were incinerated at a rubbish dump in Guerrero. There was not enough fuel available at the site to completely burn all the 43 bodies.

The parents of the missing students met with President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday for a second time. During the meeting, Pena Nieto agreed with the parents that the investigation needed to be kept open and that he would set up a new special team to investigate the case.

They have asked the president to launch a new internationally supervised investigation, like the one carried out by the IACHR.

Ayotzinapa student Aldo Gutierrez, one of the survivors, could have been a key witness in the attack in Iguala if he had not been so badly injured. He was shot in the head on Sept. 26, 2014 and has been in a coma ever since, according to Mexican daily El Universal.

In a vegetative state, Gutierrez has lost 20 kg and his body is connected to various tubes. The only reflex he has is a repeated yawn.

His family told media that they remain optimistic and are praying for a miracle, even though the hospital director has already said that there is nothing more they can do for him.

According to government data, more than 25,000 people disappeared in Mexico between 2007 and July 31, 2015. Unidentified bodies often turn up in clandestine mass graves in a style used by drug gangs. Endi