One day before the end of its mandate, the group of experts that the IACHR has commissioned to Mexico to investigate the Ayotzinapa case (GIEI) has appeared before the press, to report on the events of the last month and a half.
A lot has happened in a short time.
The novelties are constant and an aura of confusion has settled around the investigations and their protagonists.
Although it has dealt with a wide variety of topics, the GIEI has dedicated a good part of its analysis to one of the most controversial aspects of the investigations, a handful of messages that are part of the report presented in August by the presidential commission investigating the case, parallel to the Prosecutor's Office.
The GIEI has critically referred to this part of the report, alleged screenshots of messages exchanged by members of the Iguala criminal network at the time of the attack.
First, because its veracity has not been verified and thus, the conclusions that can be drawn from its reading are far from being certain.
The messages contain information on the alleged fate of the 43 missing normalistas.
Among the senders and receivers of these communications there would not only be members of Guerreros Unidos, operators of the disappearance of the normalista students, but also authorities, in the case of the former mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, or the then commander of one of the two garrisons of the Army of the municipality, General José Rodríguez.
Both are currently in jail.
The group has also denounced "interference" in the investigation carried out over the years by the Special Unit for the Investigation and Litigation of the Ayotzinapa Case (UEILCA).
Since mid-August, personnel from Internal Affairs and from the Specialized Prosecutor for Organized Crime, SEIDO, the GIEI said today, have occupied the UEILCA, accelerating parts of the process, forcing cases to be presented before the judge before the hour.
The GIEI has also revealed that Internal Affairs has initiated an audit of the unit, in a context of clash between its former head, Omar Gómez, and the attorney general, Alejandro Gertz.
The GIEI has also revealed messages compiled by the DEA office in Chicago, which at the time investigated the transfer of drugs from Iguala to Chicago, organized by Guerrero Unidos and his network.
The chats depict a context of impunity that Guerreros Unidos would have built thanks to the support of authorities at all levels of government.
According to the communications, the criminals would have obtained help not only from the military, but also from marines, state police, the local communications center, C-4, as well as several mayors and municipal police.
Regarding the report of the presidential commission, the GIEI, made up of Ángela Buitrago, Francisco Cox, Claudia Paz and Carlos Beristain, has said: “Including new elements that have not been previously known or sufficiently verified has led to enormous confusion about the conclusions of the report and its revelations, as well as the relationship of said report with the judicialization processes that had already been underway for some time.
The group has explained that in recent weeks it has begun a process of verifying the messages, which is not yet complete.
In any case, the experts have indicated that they have been able to advance a little in the process these weeks.
The GIEI received a copy of the unredacted report on August 18 and the digital images containing the screenshots on September 23.
From what they have seen, they say that the less clear aspects are that "many of the messages come out with the date 'today' without knowing what date it is, others appear online, others appear with a specific date, day or month" .
The group adds: “Names appear where only telephone numbers appear, which must be verified in order to deduce who they belong to.
In the case of the commission's report, if analyzes and verifications were made, they should be included as an explanation of the report, since the rest leaves doubts about the procedure that was used”.
Buitrago added: “The initial contrast between the different types of wiretaps carried out in one case via Blackberry phones, the Chicago wiretaps case, and the screenshot photographs presented in the commission's report, shows two ways very different in the use of terminology, keys and spelling”.
The expert added that “the messages included in the documents of the Secretary of Defense and these chats show greater formal agreement in these aspects.
These circumstances should be part of the questions to be clarified.”
The case of the report's messages is the subject of one of the great controversies of the Ayotzinapa case in recent weeks, for various reasons.
On the one hand, the commission and its manager, the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, integrated hundreds of communications into the report without an apparent verification process: if the senders and receivers were really what they were said to be, the moment in which that those messages were sent, and so on.
Thus, one of the main conclusions of the report, the alleged participation of General Rodríguez in the murder of six normalistas as intellectual author, remains shrouded in doubt.
On the other hand, the report, presented to the public with parts crossed out, was leaked to the press a few days ago without crossing out.
Thus, everyone was able to see details of what Guerreros Unidos and its network would have done with the young people, details of their possible murders and the concealment of their remains.
Regarding the leak, the GIEI says: “Unfortunately, many of these communications have been made known before the information could be verified and, therefore, it has become known not only to the media, but also to the general public. , and obviously of the alleged perpetrators, which puts the judicialization and the evidence for a process at risk.”
An important part of the appearance of the GIEI also points to the information that the Army has contributed -or not- to the investigation over the years.
In October 2021, the presidential commission investigating the Ayotzinapa case disclosed two interceptions of communications that the Ministry of Defense made to the Iguala criminal network, at the time of the attack and days after, between the end of September and the beginning of October 2021. 2014.
The messages revealed that the Army knew in real time the movement of Guerreros Unidos and their partners in the days immediately following the attack.
Based on the information collected, his actions could have changed history, allowing a more orderly search for the missing normalistas.
The existence of these messages also indicates two things, explained the GIEI.
On the one hand, the existence of a Regional Intelligence Center, based in the 27th Army Battalion, in Iguala, which the Secretary of Defense has always denied, despite the evidence, in the case of these two messages.
On the other hand, they imply the existence, says the GIEI, of more messages.
The group of experts has indicated that they found a document, called "General criminal overview in the State of Guerrero", created in November 2021, in which the two communications interventions cited above are cited, and others carried out on 5 days are added. and October 6, 2014. “It is necessary to clarify where these interceptions come from and to have the full text of them, where there is talk of an alleged transfer of the young people to a cave and the existence of graves where their children would have been left. bodies”, said the GIEI.
The group adds: “This data is essential for new search processes and clarifying responsibilities.
Subsequently, it is necessary to determine if these interceptions, whose text is partially found in documents of the Defense Secretariat, have something to do or not with the chat texts presented in the report of the presidential commission”.
About the intelligence center, Buitrago has said: “We have insisted on finding the center's documents.
It is fundamental, because even in writing they have denied us the existence of that center in 2014, which is not true”.
The fateful month for the UEILCA
The clash within the Attorney General's Office (FGR) over the Ayotzinapa case has also occupied the group of experts these weeks.
As EL PAÍS explained over the weekend, the attorney general, Alejandro Gertz, displaced the head of the unit and its members in mid-August, to make way for Internal Affairs personnel.
They were in charge of the process against Murillo Karam, arrested on August 19, and of canceling 21 of the 83 arrest warrants that the UEILCA requested that same day.
Regarding the cancellation of the orders, Carlos Beristain has indicated his surprise, especially if he compares the soldiers whose orders were canceled with those that were executed.
Some of the detainees shared a route in Iguala at night with soldiers whose arrest warrant was cancelled.
Francisco Cox explained that already in August they realized that “some judicial processes underway were being carried out outside the UEILCA.
It has reached the point where the Attorney General took charge of it, members of the former SEIDO and the then PGR Inspectorate (current Internal Affairs Prosecutor's Office), who at the time did not carry out an investigation. independent of the responsibilities of some presumed responsible for different facts”.
Cox has also noted that the 83 arrest warrants are "flawless."
The expert has also insisted on separating the work of the commission from that carried out by the UEILCA, from the conclusions of the report of the government agency and the arrest warrants requested by the GIEI: “The prosecutions presented by the UEILCA do not respond in any way to the chats presented within the COVAJ report.
The information provided by the COVAJ report on alleged messages between those responsible during the events or on dates immediately after them, still needs to be corroborated.
In none of the folders or investigations with which the judicialization and arrest warrants of 83 people were carried out by the UEILCA before August 19, do the screenshots that rest in the report of August 18 of the COVAJ,
Finally, Cox has referred to the audit that Internal Affairs has opened to the UEILCA.
"Although it is true that it is within the powers of the Attorney General's Office, through the Internal Affairs Prosecutor's Office, to carry out ordinary audits and that is how this one was presented, it is striking that in three years of operation it had never been carried out. out one in the Unit.”
The expert added: “The audit is being carried out by eight visitors.
Initially, the temporary mandate was between September 5 and 8, then it was extended until September 14, later to the 21st of the same month and then to the 30th.
The GIEI has also said that the audit initially focused on the part of the investigation that referred to the 83 arrest warrants, but that later changed.
“Only after the GIEI's attempt to find out about that audit did they turn to other investigation folders.
The people in charge told the GIEI that it was a "habitual and random" measure.
However, when the GIEI asked the person in charge of the visitation the reason for it, the start or end dates, or the purely technical details, the person in charge of it refused to offer any answer, alleging to each question that it was of confidential information, which is not only absurd, but also shows opacity on the part of those responsible.”
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