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Remains of 1 more of missing 43 Mexico students identified

September 17, 2015

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The remains of another young man among 43 missing teachers college students has been identified by forensic experts at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, Mexico’s attorney general said Wednesday.

Attorney General Arely Gomez said the student is Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz of the town of Omeapa in the southern state of Guerrero, where the students disappeared nearly a year ago.

He is the second to be identified. Student Alexander Mora Venancio was identified last December.

The students disappeared Sept. 26, 2014, at the hands of local police while they were hijacking buses for transportation to a demonstration. The Mexican government said they were detained by police in Iguala and Cocula and given to a drug gang and incinerated in a giant pyre at a garbage dump. The government said the ashes were then bagged and dumped into a nearby river. The attorney general’s office said earlier this year that most of the remains were too charred to extract DNA material.

An independent panel of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last week questioned key parts of the government’s investigation, including saying that a fire hot enough to incinerate 43 bodies did not occur in the dump.

Gomez said the remains of Guerrero de la Cruz were found in one of the bags in the river. She said there were 72-to-1 odds that the bone fragment belonged to someone related to the student’s mother.

Felipe de la Cruz, spokesman for the families, said they had just been told Wednesday of the latest identification by a team of Argentine experts also working on the case at the request of the families. Those experts received the information from the lab in Innsbruck and told the parents that it was not a certainty, he said.

The Argentine experts said they did not fully trust the result, de la Cruz said. The Argentine experts maintain that they don’t know where the bag came from and cannot confirm it came from the Cocula dump as the government says.

“It is not 100 percent certain,” De la Cruz said. “So for us it is still not believable.”

De la Cruz said news of the identification came as a shock to the families, including the parents of the boy. The families are currently in Mexico City and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Guerrero de la Cruz was 20 when he disappeared and was from the farming town of Omeapa, 15 minutes from the city of Tixtla, where the teachers college is.

According to a profile of him on the website of a human rights group working with the families, Guerrero de la Cruz talked about resources being scarce in his town. It says he wanted to become a teacher so he could return to work in Omeapa, which he said had no hometown teachers. He said some teachers sent from elsewhere did not always give the students sufficient attention, the profile says.


Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman contributed to this report.

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