Families of missing Mexico students urge Israel to deport suspect

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Mexico City (AFP) – Relatives of the 43 Mexican students who disappeared in 2014 protested outside the Israeli embassy on Wednesday, demanding the extradition of a former top investigator wanted in connection with the case.

Tomas Zeron, who previously headed Mexico’s criminal investigation department, is accused of rigging the investigation into one of the country’s worst human rights tragedies.

Zeron is one of the architects of the so-called “historical truth,” the official version of the case presented in 2015, which was rejected by victims’ families and independent experts.

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“Israel is protecting Tomas Zeron, a human rights abuser who tortured those he arrested at the time to uncover ‘historical truth,'” Meliton Ortega, a representative of the students’ families, told AFP.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Mexico City with no visible police presence.

Some carried pictures of the missing students, while others spray-painted graffiti on embassy walls.

Mexico has repeatedly called on Israel to extradite Zeron, who is accused of kidnapping suspects, torturing and tampering with evidence – allegations he denies.

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The 43 student teachers had seized buses in the southern state of Guerrero to go to a demonstration in Mexico City before disappearing.

Investigators say they were arrested by corrupt police and handed over to a drug cartel who mistook them for members of a rival gang, but what exactly happened to them is disputed.

So far, the remains of only three victims have been identified.

Last month, a truth commission charged by the current government with investigating the atrocity branded the case as a “state crime” involving agents from various institutions.

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Military personnel, either directly or negligently, bear “clear responsibility”.

Prosecutors announced last month that arrest warrants had been issued for more than 80 suspects, including 20 military personnel, 44 police officers and 14 cartel members.

On the same day, former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, who led the controversial “historical truth” investigation, was arrested on charges of enforced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice.

Last week, the government said an army general and two other military personnel had also been arrested.

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