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Chief investigator in case of 43 missing Mexican students resigns from post

Head of Criminal Investigation Agency, Tomás Zerón, quits ahead of anniversary of disappearance

Tomás Zerón.
Tomás Zerón. EFE

The head of Mexico’s Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC), Tomás Zerón, quit his job on Wednesday, just 12 days ahead of the second anniversary of the Ayotzinapa massacre, which saw 43 student teachers disappear from the small town of Iguala.

The role of Zerón in the investigation into the case, which has left a deep scar on the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, was of great importance. The AIC head contributed to creating what the government has called the “historical truth,” a narrative of what happened on the night of September 26, 2014, and that has subsequently been questioned time and again by international experts who have analyzed the case.

Sources admitted the aim is to build bridges between the authorities and the families of the 43 victims

Shortly after the announcement of his resignation, the presidency revealed that Zerón would be taking on the role of technical secretary at the National Public Safety Board.

While the reason for his resignation was not announced, sources close to the civil service admitted that it was aimed at building bridges between the authorities and the families of the 43 victims. The parents of the rural students set up a campsite in April outside a government building to demand the resignation of Zerón, and a new line of investigation that went further than the “historic truth” presented by the authorities.

A protest for the victims in Mexico City in 2014.
A protest for the victims in Mexico City in 2014.

“For us it is very important to see Zerón investigated, that he pay for all of the problems that he has caused us,” said Epifanio Álvarez, the father of victim Jorge Álvarez, in an interview with Mexican daily Reforma. Álvarez pointed out that Zerón has been accused by the victims’ families of manipulating the evidence related to the disappearances.

It is very important to see Zerón pay for all of the problems he has caused

Epifanio Álvarez, the father of victim Jorge Álvarez

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), which has questioned the official version, used a video recording to accuse Zerón of having visited in secret the San Juan river, in October 2014 – a month after the disappearance of the students. The location was where a bag was found containing human remains, from which a bone fragment was extracted leading to the identification of Alexander Mora Venancio, one of the victims.

The parents of the 43 have been calling for Zerón to resign since the video was made public.

While his career has been marked by the Ayotzinapa case, Zerón was also responsible for heading up the efforts that lead to the second recapture of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, in February 2014.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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