Mexican court orders new investigation into missing students

A federal court in Mexico has ordered the investigation into the 2014 disappearance of 43 college students be done again under the supervision of a truth commission.

Doubts have been cast on probe into disappearance of 43 college students

Students hold posters with images of some of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa College Raul Isidro Burgos students during a march to mark the 43rd month since their disappearance in the state of Guerrero, in Mexico City, Mexico April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero - RC1187B29170 (Henry Romero/Reuters)

A federal court in Mexico said Monday that it has ordered the investigation into the 2014 disappearance of 43 college students be done again under the supervision of a truth commission.

Accusations that suspects were tortured to give confessions convinced the court in the northern state of Tamaulipas that it was necessary to conduct a new investigation.

The court called for the creation of an Investigation Commission for Truth and Justice, according to a statement. The commission would be made up of victims' representatives, the National Human Rights Commission and federal prosecutors.

The federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement late Monday that it disagreed with the court's decision and that accusations of torture were under investigation.

On Sept. 26, 2014, the 43 students from a teachers college disappeared in the town of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero. The Attorney General's Office said local police working for a drug cartel handed the students over to cartel members.

A few months after the disappearance, the attorney general at the time said investigators had arrived at the "historical truth" of what happened: That the students were killed and their bodies incinerated in a huge fire at a garbage dump outside Iguala.

The mother of one of the 43 missing students holds a poster reading 'My Only Reason the Sleep is to Dream with your Return,' as she takes part in a protest blocking the main entrance of the Attorney General's Office in Mexico City in 2017. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

But subsequent investigations by outside experts cast doubt on that version.

In March of this year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report saying that 34 of the 129 people arrested in connection with the students' disappearance had suffered torture.

The report accused federal investigators and marines of extracting confessions through torture and called for those statements to be thrown out.

At the time, the Mexican government responded that all of the cited incidents were under investigation.

The court's decision released Monday was overwhelmingly critical of the investigation, saying there was sloppiness, a lack of independence and a violation of human rights through torture.

"There is no sign that they even explored the lines of investigation that signalled participation of personnel from the Mexican army or the Federal Police," the decision said. "And on top of that it also appears that they have not investigated the torture, which implies that the personnel to which those acts are attributed have not been investigated, among them, members of the Mexican marines."

Relatives of 43 missing college students, from Mexico's Guerrero state, marked the 43rd month since their disappearances in April 2018. (Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)

The Attorney General's Office in its statement said that multiple lines of investigation continued.

On Monday, advocates for families of the missing students said in a statement that they welcomed the court's decision and that the families would be analyzing it in the coming days.

"The federal government always responded that it would be the Mexican courts that gave the investigation the final grade," their statement said. "And their verdict is overwhelming: the (Attorney General's Office's) account is unsustainable and the entire investigation must be reviewed in an autonomous and impartial way."