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Mexico declares students in 2014 disappearance dead

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Mexico, Aug 19: Eight years after 43 students went missing in Mexico's Guerrero state in one of the nation's worst human rights atrocities, officials have declared all of them dead.

The Truth Commission formed to clear up the 2014 disappearances said on Thursday that the army was responsible at least for not stopping the abductions as a soldier had infiltrated the student group and the army was aware of what was happening.

Mexico declares students in 2014 disappearance dead

Encinas said that in the aftermath of the incident, the last government "concealed the truth of the facts, altered crime scenes, covered up the links between authorities with a criminal group."

He added that the army was responsible either "for action, omission or negligence.''

All indications point to this "sad reality," Alejandro Encinas, secretary of state for Human Rights in the Ministry of Interior, told the media.

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One of the students was a military informant and if the authorities had followed the protocol for locating missing soldiers "the disappearance and murder of the students would have been prevented," Encinas said.

Mexico's defense ministry did not immediately respond.

Latest report more critical than Mexico's first

The findings were communicated to the families of the students at a "hard and painful meeting," which Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also attended, Encinas said.

Lopez Obrador had promised to uncover what happened to the students, who vanished in the southwestern city of Iguala, having dismissed the version of events presented by the previous government of then-president Enrique Pena Nieto.

The students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College — known as a bulwark of radical protests and for defying drug cartel extortion — went missing on September 26, 2014 as they traveled to a protest in five buses.

They were said to have been stopped by corrupt police in Iguala and handed over to a drug cartel.

The administration of then-President Enrique Pena Nieto had presented as the "historic truth'' that the students were killed by a drug gang that incinerated their bodies at a dump in nearby Cocula and tossed their burnt remains into a river. That 2015 report made no mention of state complicity or failings and had been widely questioned by independent human rights experts.

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The case triggered a global outcry over disappearance and impunity in Mexico.

'Sad reality' that the students no longer alive

On Thursday, Encinas made a rare official acknowledgement that the students did not survive.

The country's top human rights official said that despite elaborate search measures, the remains of only three students have been discovered and identified.

"There is no indication the students are alive. All the testimonies and evidence prove that they were cunningly killed and disappeared," Encinas said. "It's a sad reality."

The relatives of the missing students had for long expressed hope that their loved ones had survived, chanting "we want them back alive" in several protests.

Source: DW

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