Watch CBS News

Mexico remands into custody former top prosecutor over controversial probe into disappearance of 43 students

Anti-government protests in Mexico are turning violent
Protesters demand justice for 43 missing Mexican students 02:24

Mexico on Saturday remanded in custody a former attorney general in connection with a controversial investigation he led into the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 -- one of the country's worst human rights tragedies.

The "preventive detention" of Jesus Murillo Karam was imposed "to guarantee his appearance" at a Wednesday court hearing, according to a judicial source, where it will be determined whether he will be tried on charges related to the case.

Murillo Karam, who was arrested on Friday, is the most senior figure detained so far in connection with the case, which shocked the nation and generated international condemnation.

Mexico arrests former top prosecutor in 2014 missing students case
A person rides past a wall with pictures of some of the 43 students who disappeared from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College after former attorney general Jesus Murillo was arrested on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the 2014 disappearance of 43 students, on Reforma Avenue, in Mexico City, Mexico August 19, 2022. HENRY ROMERO / REUTERS

Arrest warrants have also been issued for dozens more suspects including military personnel, police officers and cartel members, prosecutors announced.

They are accused of involvement in organized crime, forced disappearance, torture, homicide and obstruction of justice, they said.

The teaching students had commandeered buses in the southern state of Guerrero to travel to a demonstration in Mexico City before they went missing.

Investigators say they were detained by corrupt police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel which mistook them for members of a rival gang, but exactly what happened to them has been hotly disputed.

According to the official report presented in 2015, cartel members killed the students and incinerated their remains at a garbage dump.

Those conclusions were rejected by independent experts and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as families of the victims.

Murillo Karam is considered the architect of the so-called "historical truth" version of events presented in 2015 by the government of then-president Enrique Pena Nieto that was widely rejected, including by relatives.

The former heavyweight of the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested for the crimes of forced disappearance, torture and perverting justice, the attorney general's office said.

In May, the number of people reported missing in violence-wracked Mexico topped 100,000, according to official data. About 75% are men.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.