17 bodies burned at rubbish dump in southern Mexico: experts confirm

Relatives of the 43 missing students and members of the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF) hold a press conference on Feb 9, 2016.
Relatives of the 43 missing students and members of the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF) hold a press conference on Feb 9, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY - At least 17 bodies had been burned at a rubbish dump in the southern Mexican city of Cocula where 43 college students went missing nearby in 2014, said an international team of fire experts on Friday (Apr 1), Xinhua news reported.

"There is sufficient evidence, which can even be physically seen, to confirm that there was a large, controlled fire in the place known as the Cocula rubbish dump," Ricardo Damian Torres, spokesperson for the team of experts, told a news conference at the office of Mexico's attorney-general.

The forensic report, the third report produced since the students' disappearance, was released after the team, comprising two fire experts from Mexico, three from the United States and one from Peru, worked six weeks on it.

Studies also show that at least 17 people were burned in the rubbish dump, Torres said without specifying whether the burned bodies were those of the missing students.

On September 26, 2014, the 43 students from a local teachers' training college in the town of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, were intercepted by police of the historic city of Iguala, also in the state of Guerrero.

The students were on their way to Mexico City to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the massacre of students in Mexico City's Tlatelolco Square.

The students were later turned over to Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) drug cartel and from then on their whereabouts were unknown.

On November 7, 2014, the Attorney-General's Office (PGR) said the students had been killed and their remains had been burned in a rubbish dump in Cocula.

However, the version of events has been rejected by the victims' families who called for a study to be carried out by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, a non-governmental, non-profit, scientific organization.

In February 2015, an Argentine-led team of forensic experts said that while they could not exclude the possibility that the students were incinerated in a landfill by the drug gang, there was "no scientific evidence" to say that for sure.