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Official: Six of 43 missing Mexican students were kept alive for days

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A person walks past portraits of some of the 43 missing students in September 2015.(AFP file photo)

Six of the 43 college students who went missing in 2014 were kept alive in a warehouse for days before being turned over to the local army commander who ordered them killed, according to a Mexican government official, leading a Truth Commission.

The shocking revelation was made by Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas, who directly tied the military to one of Mexico’s worst human rights scandals. It came with little fanfare as Encinas made a lengthy defense of the commission’s report released a week earlier.

“There is also information corroborated with emergency 089 telephone calls where allegedly six of the 43 disappeared students were held during several days and alive in what they call the old warehouse and from there were turned over to the colonel,” Encinas said Friday.

“Allegedly the six students were alive for as many as four days after the events and were killed and disappeared on orders of the colonel, allegedly the then Col José Rodríguez Pérez.”

The Mexican Ministry of Defense has not yet commented on these allegations.

The report of the Truth Commission mentions that four days after the abduction of the students, on September 30, 2014, the army received an anonymous emergency call. The caller said the students were being held in a large concrete warehouse at a location called “Pueblo Viejo”. The caller fully described the location of the students.

In a summary of the commission's report, it is mentioned that a colonel was present at the time of the incident.

“On September 30 ‘the colonel’ mentions that they will take care of cleaning everything up and that they had already taken charge of the six students who had remained alive,” it said.

Encinas had previously said that the disappearance of these students is an example of a "state crime" because the army did not take any action despite being aware of it. He, however, did not mention at that time the delivery of the six students alive to Pérez.

The families of the missing students have been pressing the government for years to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the military's role in the incident.

Last week, federal agents arrested former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, who oversaw the initial investigation into the incident.

On Wednesday, a judge ordered that he should be judged in court for enforced disappearance, torture and official misconduct. Prosecutors allege that Karam told a false story about what happened to the students in order to quickly end the case.

An independent investigation released in December 2014 reported that the officers, linked to criminals, had handed the students over to local gang members, who then killed them.

The government has so far failed to determine the fate of the missing students.

Rights groups have slammed the Mexican government for its mishandling of the incident, describing it as a “stain” on its human rights record.

The Mexican government has displayed a “reckless approach to human rights,” Amnesty International said in a statement released in September 2016.

The allegations of police complicity in the incident have led to mass protests throughout the country.

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