News   /   Mexico

Mexico demands Israel extradite ex-official wanted in case of 43 missing students

This picture taken on September 30, 2015 and released by Mexico's General Attorney's office, shows then General Attorney Tomas Zeron speaking in Mexico City. (File photo by AFP)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has called on the Israeli regime to extradite a fugitive security official wanted in connection with the disappearance and apparent massacre of 43 students in 2014.

Obrador requested in a letter that Tel Aviv return Tomas Zeron, who headed the Criminal Investigation Agency that led the inquiry into one of Mexico’s worst human rights tragedies.

"The president has sent a letter ... requesting (Israel's) support and cooperation to expedite the extradition process of (Zeron)," Deputy Interior Minister Alejandro Encinas said on Friday.

Zeron is accused of being involved in the disappearance of the 43 college students from Ayotzinapa in 2014. The students' bodies have never been found, though a burned bone fragment was found at a site that was visited by Zeron a day before its official discovery.

Mexico’s military has been accused on multiple occasions of extrajudicial killings and torture in the course of the country’s so-called war on trug.

The government has said corrupt police handed the 43 students over to drug gang henchmen in late 2014, who then incinerated them at a garbage dump in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Some experts have questioned the official narrative.

The current administration, which took office in December 2018, has pledged to re-open the case.

The disappearance of the students “has left a mark of pain and impunity that this new government, which I am honored to lead, has been stalling in an unprecedented effort to restore justice, transparency and accountability,” Encinas read from the letter at a presidential conference.

Zeron and five other former officials face charges including torture, forced disappearance and judicial misconduct. Three of the former officials have been arrested and three others, including Zeron, are still at large.

“Our country suffered one of the most serious historical attacks on its human rights in the last decades when, in 2014, forty-three normalista students were disappeared in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, in a brutal and ruthless action in which members of the drug trafficking and local and federal authorities colluded,” the letter states.

Meanwhile, violence erupted on the streets of Mexico City as Mexicans commemorated the 53rd anniversary of the Tlatelolco Massacre on Saturday.

Demonstrators in the Mexican capital hurled rocks and projectiles at riot police, who responded by firing teargas to disperse the angry crowd.

Police presence grew heavier as thousands of protesters took to the streets chanting and raising their fists.

The protesters are marking the 1968 attack on rallying leftist protesters, which remains a potent symbol in Mexican society. The federal government of the time launched a bloody crackdown against students who were using Mexico’s hosting of the Olympic Games to draw the world’s attention to social injustices in their country.

An estimated 300 demonstrators were killed in what became known as the Tlatelolco Massacre.

The Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games went on as scheduled from October 12 to 27.

More than 50 years later, commemorations of the massacre are still highly emotional even though many of the participants were not even born in 1968.

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