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Mexico: Ex-prosecutor to be tried over missing students

August 25, 2022

A judge has agreed to hear the charges against a Mexican former attorney general, who has been accused of covering up student the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.

Family members hold placards showing the faces of the 43 men who disappeared in 2014
The families of the 43 missing students have disputed the former attorney general's version of eventsImage: Cristian Leyva/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Jesus Murillo Karam, a former attorney general of Mexico, will go to trial over his role in the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.

He is accused of torture, forced disappearance and the obstruction of justice.

Murillo Karam conceded on Wednesday there may have been "errors'' in the investigation that he oversaw, but said that in the eight years since then, no one has been able to prove another version of what happened to the students on September 26, 2014.

"I can accept some mistakes, mistakes could be made. I can accept things that were done wrong, but no one has been able to bring down [my investigation]," he said. 

Murillo Karam, who was arrested on Friday, is the first high-level official to be detained over the incident. A day earlier, a truth commission had been set up which called the incident a "state crime."

What is Murillo Karam accused of?

On September 26, 2014, 43 young men studying at a rural teacher training college in Ayotzinapa went missing in the nearby city of Iguala in Guerrero state. They were never found.

In 2020, the current attorney general Alejandro Gertz Manero accused Murillo Karam of "orchestrating a massive media trick" to oversee a "generalized cover-up" in the extraordinary high-profile case of the disappeared students.

Jesus Murillo Karam speaking at a press conference in 2015
Jesus Murillo Karam was the attorney general of Mexico at the time of the student disappearancesImage: Sashenka Gutierrez/dpa/picture alliance

Facing pressure to solve the case, Murillo Karam had said in 2014 that members of a drug gang had killed the students and burned their bodies at a garbage dump. Murillo Karam labeled this assessment "historic truth" and this became the government's official version of events.

However, Murillo Karam's version of events was rejected by many, including the victims' families.

The recently-established truth commission said a soldier had infiltrated the student group and the army did not mobilize to block the kidnappings, despite being aware of what was transpiring.

zc/sri (AP, Reuters, AFP)