Former Mexico Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam resigned from his post on Feb. 27 following a 27-month tenure that was marred in part by the disappearances and murders of 43 college students. Photo: DemocracyNow/YouTube
MEXICO CITY, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Mexican government's top law enforcement official abruptly resigned from his post Friday following a 27-month tenure that saw controversy envelop his department -- particularly over the disappearances and murders of dozens of college students last year.
Mexico Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced his departure almost five months to the day after the students vanished. The group of 43 pupils, which were traveling to a protest march in Guerrero on Sept. 26, were presumed to be abducted and killed.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration said an investigation concluded that the students were abducted by corrupt police forces and handed over to drug traffickers -- who then killed them, burned their bodies and dumped the remains into a river. A local mayor was even arrested and charged in the case.
Karam was thrust into the global spotlight when his office investigated the matter. Due to mistakes and perceived insensitivity toward the victims' families, he endured a firestorm of criticism -- particularly for an offhand remark he made during the investigation.
At the news conference, Karam announced the students' deaths and fielded numerous questions from a pool of reporters. At one point, he put a stop to the media's questions and generated outrage when he said, "I'm tired now."
The news media and the Mexican public reacted swiftly and critically to the remarks, believing it was a reflection of the government's callous attitude toward the missing students -- most of whom were from poor rural areas of the country. The phrase "ya me canse" -- Spanish for "I'm tired" -- was subsequently put to great use on the Internet and social media channels. Karam later clarified his remark and said he only meant that the media's questions were becoming repetitive and he had gotten very little sleep by that point of the probe.
Last month, Karam announced that the case was closed and the government said the remains of only one of the missing students was found. A forensic team from Argentina, however, questioned the government's claims and said there were numerous problems with the investigation, Yahoo! News reported.
A mass grave was ultimately discovered in the search for the students, but DNA testing showed the remains did not belong to the victims. Three men later claimed responsibility for killing the students.
Karam did not offer a specific reason for his departure, but the Mexican government has recently been trying to restore public support in light of the precariously low approval rating for President Nieto's administration.
The burdensome scandals that have shaken Mexico's government led many to question whether state officials are sufficiently battling serious security problems, widespread violence and seemingly omnipresent corruption, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Karam is not leaving the government entirely. He will take over another government post in urban planning and the attorney general post will be filled by Arely Gomez, who is a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.