Four months after the abduction of 43 college students in rural Mexico sparked outrage in the country, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam officially pronounced the missing students dead on Tuesday. Murillo Karam’s pronouncement is the first time the attorney general has said conclusively that all the students had died and comes as the students’ relatives have questioned the government’s evidence and conclusions about what happened to their loved ones last September in the city of Iguala.
“[Murillo Karam] went beyond hints that the students had been killed to declare that after an ‘exhaustive, serious’ investigation, ‘the evidence allows us to determine that the students were kidnapped, killed, burned and thrown into the river,’” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Murillo Karam, in what appeared to be an effort to convince an increasingly skeptical public that investigators had solved the crime, showed photographs of charred remains, snippets of videotaped confessions and the crime scene. He also disclosed that nearly 100 people had been arrested, 39 confessions obtained and thousands of fragments of human remains recovered.”
“The attorney general has come under attack from many quarters, including the students’ relatives and fire experts, who say the government’s version of what happened is implausible,” the Associated Press reports. “Murillo Karam said the motive was that the members of a local gang, the Guerreros Unidos, believed the young men were rival gang members… But many of the suspects testified that they knew the men were students.”
“[The students’ relatives] maintain the military based in Iguala would have known about the arrival of the students in the town and what happened to them,” according to the BBC. “They have campaigned to gain access to inspect army barracks where they allege students might have been taken.”