The remains of one of 43 Mexican university students who went missing two months ago have been identified, in what is the first concrete evidence in a case that has caused a political crisis in Mexico.
The student’s DNA was identified among charred remains found several weeks ago near a garbage dump, said family and government officials.
Though there was no official announcement Saturday, relatives and fellow students at the Rural Normal School in Ayotzinapa said experts had confirmed the identity of missing student Alexander Mora, a teenage farmer whose classmates called him “The Rock” for his determination.
“He was a classmate who was very strong, very persevering toward his goals,” said student leader Omar Garcia. “It’s a big loss.”
The families, who have been in limbo since the students disappeared after a protest in late September, were given the information late Friday by an Argentine team of forensic experts working on behalf of the relatives and with the Attorney General’s Office, relatives said.
The identification confirmed what Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told parents in November: that the students rounded up in a conflict with police had been killed and incinerated by a drug gang.
The fact that there were no witnesses and barely a trace of the 43 young men led parents to discount the story, saying they would keep searching and expected to find their children alive.
“This proves the government’s assertion that drug cartel hitmen burned the bodies of the students in this garbage dump. They had confessions but it was hard to prove, but now they know this happened to at least one person,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Ioan Grillo.
If all 43 are confirmed dead, it would rank among the worst mass murders in a drug war that has killed more than 80,000 people and left 22,000 others missing since 2006 in Mexico.
The case has sparked domestic outrage and drawn international condemnation, highlighted Mexico’s struggle with corruption and undermined President Enrique Peña Nieto’s assurances that his security policy was bearing fruit.