Ex-top prosecutor remanded in Mexico disappeared students case

Attorney Jesus Murillo Karam in a file photo in 2014. He is the most senior figure detained in connection with the case. PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexico on Saturday (Aug 20) remanded in custody a former attorney-general in connection with a controversial investigation he led into the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 - one of the country's worst human rights tragedies.

The "preventive detention" of Mr Jesus Murillo Karam was imposed "to guarantee his appearance" at a Wednesday court hearing, according to a judicial source, where it will be determined whether he will be tried on charges related to the case.

Mr Murillo Karam, who was arrested on Friday, is the most senior figure detained so far in connection with the case, which shocked the nation and generated international condemnation.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for dozens more suspects including military personnel, police officers and cartel members, prosecutors announced.

They are accused of involvement in organised crime, forced disappearance, torture, homicide and obstruction of justice, they said.

The teaching students had commandeered buses in the southern state of Guerrero to travel to a demonstration in Mexico City before they went missing.

Investigators say they were detained by corrupt police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, which mistook them for members of a rival gang, but exactly what happened to them has been hotly disputed.

According to the official report presented in 2015, cartel members killed the students and incinerated their remains at a garbage dump.

Those conclusions were rejected by independent experts and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as families of the victims.

Mr Murillo Karam is considered the architect of the so-called "historical truth" version of events presented in 2015 by the government of then president Enrique Pena Nieto that was widely rejected, including by relatives.

The former heavyweight of the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested for the crimes of forced disappearance, torture and perverting justice, the attorney-general's office said.

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