Mexico arrests General José Rodríguez Pérez in Ayotzinapa of missing students
Jesús Murillo Karam, Mexico’s former attorney general, was arrested last month for his alleged role in a cover-up. Taken together, these arrests show a rare effort by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to hold security officials accountable for human rights abuses in Mexico.
Mexico arrests former attorney general for kidnapping 43 students
Rodríguez Pérez is the highest ranking military officer arrested in this case. Warrants for three others were also issued this week, according to Mexico’s deputy security minister. Two of them were arrested; we remain a fugitive.
“Four arrest warrants have been issued against members of the Mexican army,” Deputy Public Security Secretary Ricardo Mejía told reporters on Thursday. “There are three people arrested, including the commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion when the events took place in Iguala in September 2014.”
Rodríguez Pérez, who was a colonel at the time of the students’ disappearance, is accused of having played an important role.
Six of the missing students “have been handed over to the colonel”, Alejandro Encinas, Mexico’s undersecretary for human rights, told a news conference last month.
Encinas said the six were “killed and disappeared on the orders of the colonel, allegedly then-Colonel José Rodríguez Pérez”.
Students commandeered buses, a local custom, to get to the protest in Mexico City. Encinas said they probably unwittingly robbed a bus loaded with drugs or money.
Local law enforcement forced them out of the vehicles. It’s unclear what happened next, but Encinas said state and federal officials neglected to stop the kidnapping and save the students, although they could have done so.
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The disappearance of 43 students shocked Mexico, but under former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto no serious attempt was made to solve the crime. Instead, officials shielded the role federal officials played in the disappearance.
López Obrador now appears to be prosecuting federal officials, unlike his predecessor. This effort was seen as a positive development by victims’ families and human rights defenders. But some analysts have questioned whether López Obrador was primarily motivated by the opportunity to criticize Peña Nieto.
López Obrador’s decision to arrest a senior member of the army – one of the most powerful institutions in the country – carries a certain political risk. He relied on the military for a range of purposes, from deploying soldiers across the country as part of a homeland security initiative to building a 900-mile train in southern Mexico. . This dependence on the armed forces has raised concerns among human rights defenders.
Mexico’s attorney general’s office has issued more than 80 arrest warrants in the case.
Alejandra Ibarra Chaoul contributed to this report.