The bodies of 43 Mexican students who went missing in September have been found, according to a statement from Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam during a press conference on Friday, Nov 7. According to the Washington Post, the students were shot, burned in a dump and thrown into a muddy river.
The students who were killed have a controversial past. The New York Times stated the students were involved in an attack by corrupt police officers on Sept. 26. The press conference fueled the theory that the police turned the students over to criminals, knowing they would be killed, rather than overhauling the police department.
On the day of the attack in September, the students were part of a demonstration in Iguala, 120 miles south of Mexico City. According to The New York Times, they were students at a rural teachers college and were in Iguala to raise money and steal buses for transportation to a different demonstration.
Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca, was also involved. Abarca ordered that the students stop disrupting the students to be stopped from disrupting a speech given by his wife. This confrontation started the riots with police.
“The testimony very unfortunately points to the homicide of a large number of people,” Murillo Karam told The Washington Post.
In his hour-long presentation, Murillo Karam described a detailed account of the fate of the missing students. The culprits are believed to be members of a prominent drug gang. This case has captivated the country for weeks and created a political crisis for the Mexican government.
Video clips of the detainees’ confessions were used, including detailed re-enactments of the killings. According to The Washington Post, Murillo Karam also stated that many of the remains were “burned to such a degree that identifying DNA has been difficult.”
Murillo Karam said that the students were taken in stole police trucks. In an area between Iguala and the city of Cocula, the students were handed over to cartel members from the Guerreros Unidos gang. At this point, 15 students were already dead or unconscious, according to The Washington Post. The students were then taken to the garbage dump, where the massacre continued.
The remaining students were shot, while the gang members doused the corpses in diesel fuel and started the fire.
Afterward, the gang members began to stuff the remains into garbage bags before throwing them into the Rio San Juan.
These suspects led investigators to the remains. According to The New York Times, the remains are being sent to Austria for testing at the University of Innsbruck, which specializes in identifying remains that are particularly difficult to analyze.
“The statements and information that we have gotten unfortunately points to the murder of a large number of people,” Murillo Karam said, according to The New York Times.
Murillo Karam ended his statement abruptly, saying, “Enough, I’m tired.” This comment ignited fury among the spectators.
Other mass graves were found in Iguala, along with the alleged remains of the missing students.
Many relatives of those missing are still in disbelief, accusing President Enrique Peña Nieto of attempting to quickly end the case prior to a scheduled trip to Asia.
This accusation may be well-warranted, given Mexico’s history of coerced confessions and staged arrests.
Thousands of protestors have marched through the capital, according to The Washington Post, even burning government buildings throughout the country. Students have also gone on a strike.
While Murillo Karam expressed the devastation, he also said that it was necessary to make the public aware.
“It’s sad to show these images, but it’s our duty to society, which is truly offended,” he said. “This cannot be repeated.”
Editor’s Note: Information from The Washington post, The New York Times and NBC was used in this report.