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Mexico seeks new DNA tests in missing students case

AFP PHOTO/ Yuri Cortez | Relatives of the 43 missing students arrive for a press conference at El Zocalo square in Mexico City on September 24, 2015

Mexican authorities are sifting through nearly 60,000 bone fragments to see if any can be tested for a DNA match with 43 students who vanished last year, officials said Friday.

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Independent forensic experts from Argentina are helping government investigators to find any remains that could be sent to Austria's Innsbruck University for lab tests, said Eber Omar Betanzos, a human rights prosecutor.

The attorney general's office sent 17 charred remains to the university last year, but only one student was positively identified while only a partial match was found of a second one.

Officials said in November that the 17 remains were the only ones linked to the case that could potentially be tested for DNA.

But the government has ordered new forensic tests on all the bones amid new doubts over the official investigation's conclusions.

Betanzos told reporters that the nearly 60,000 bone fragments are "of different sizes and characteristics" and that most are charred.

The remains were found at the same site as the bones that confirmed the death of one student and could possibly belong to a second youth.

Prosecutors say the 43 students were whisked away by municipal police in the southern state of Guerrero on September 26, 2014, and delivered to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their bodies at a garbage dump.

Authorities found the charred remains inside bags that were thrown in a river near the dump.

But independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights tore apart the official investigation this month, saying there was no evidence that the students were burned at the landfill.

At a press conference held on Thursday the parents of the missing students insisted the government open a new investigation into their childrens' disappearance.

One of the parents, Felipe de la Cruz, criticised the Mexican president directly.

“The president is waiting for this movement to grow tired and be forgotten by creating a special prosecution when the demand from the parents is the creation of a special unit…where they investigate the disappearance of the 43 students,” de la Cruz said.

A protest will be held in Mexico City on Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of a case that has caused the biggest challenge of President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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