An independent investigation has found that 43 students who disappeared in Guerrero, Mexico on Sept. 26, 2014, were not killed and cremated at a local landfill, as the government believes. Image: PinkBlue / Shutterstock
MEXICO CITY, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- An independent investigation has disputed the official version of events put forth by the Mexican government regarding the fate of 43 students who disappeared a year ago.
In September 2014, the students, who were training to be teachers vanished without a trace in the western state of Guerrero. The government's official position is that they were abducted, killed and their remains set ablaze at a landfill.
The government subsequently commissioned an independent review of the incident, the panel of which released a 500-plus page report Sunday.
According to the review by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a watchdog arm of the Organization of American States, there is no evidence to support the notion that all 43 bodies were incinerated at a landfill.
A fire expert for the commission said it would have been nearly impossible for the abductors to set fire to that many bodies in a mass cremation -- a task that would have taken substantial fuel to keep the blaze burning and about 60 hours to complete.
Immediately after the report was issued, the Mexican government dispatched forensic experts to the area to conduct more tests.
While the report discredits the government's theory, it does not posit a theory of its own. It does, though, speculate on possible motives.
The students disappeared Sept. 26, 2014, and have not been seen since. Authorities are certain the group are all dead but it remains unclear exactly what happened to them and why.
The official theory says the students were abducted by police officers in Iguala and possibly turned over to a criminal gang to be killed. One possible motive is that the students stirred some trouble during a demonstration while in Iguala. Another is that they crossed a drug cartel by somehow interfering in illegal activity.
Several people were subsequently arrested in the case -- including the mayor of Iguala, his wife, policemen and members of a criminal gang.
The arrests led police to the landfill site, where a bone fragment was found and later determined to belong to one of the missing students.
However, relatives of the victims have rejected the government theory from Day One. Many of them believe the government is attempting to cover up the crimes to hide involvement by high-ranking officials -- including, some say, the Mexican army.