Nearly 10 weeks after 43 college students in Mexico were kidnapped by police, forensic experts have identified a bone found among remains in a trash dump as belonging to one of the missing men, the school and federal officials said Saturday.
This would be a key clue in discovering the fate of the students, last seen Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala, in Guerrero state, after a deadly confrontation with police acting on the orders of the mayor, according to the government.
A message on the college’s Facebook page said Argentine forensic investigators, whom the families brought to inspect remains, had notified the father of Alexander Mora, one of the students, that a bone had been identified as the young man’s.
A spokesperson for the federal attorney general’s office also confirmed that an identification had been made but would not divulge the name until a news conference Sunday.
The Mexican government has said that garbage bags full of ashes and bone fragments discovered in a trash dump at Cocula, near Iguala, where the students were abducted, were too deteriorated to be identified easily. Samples were sent to a laboratory in Austria, where the identification was apparently made.
Without a definitive identification, many of the students’ parents refused to believe their children were dead, despite statements from detainees who described in detail how they killed, dismembered and burned the bodies.
Felix Rosas, a teacher at the school, also confirmed the identification of Mora in remarks to Mexican newspapers. All of the missing students were freshmen in a rural politicized college that specializes in training the children of poor campesinos to become teachers.
The students’ disappearance has galvanized many in this violent country, sending thousands into the streets to protest the killings and the deeply penetrated tentacles of government corruption that the incident exposed.
It has handed President Enrique Peña Nieto his most serious crisis in two years of government. He has announced a series of security measures but has largely failed to appease an angry public.
Cecilia Sanchez of the Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.