Outside experts say at least 17 burned at Mexican dump

A third investigation of a dump site in southern Mexico found evidence of a large fire in which at least 17 bodies were burned, a member of a six-person fire expert team said Friday.

Ricardo Damian Torres, speaking from the offices of Mexico’s attorney general, said that tests would be conducted in the coming weeks to determine whether it would have been possible to burn all 43 students who disappeared in Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014 in a case that has sparked large protests and become symbolic of the country’s human rights issues.

"There is sufficient evidence, including physically observable, to affirm that there was a controlled fire event of great dimensions in the place called the Cocula dump," Torres said. He did not say when such a fire occurred or offer any explanation as to how the team conducted its research and reached its conclusion.

The latest study comes after another team of international experts sent by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded the students from the Rural Normal School at Ayotzinapa could not have been burned at the Cocula dump as the government has maintained.

The students disappeared after hijacking buses in Iguala. They were intercepted by local police and turned over to members of a local drug cartel.

The Mexican government’s investigation determined they were killed and incinerated at a garbage dump outside the nearby town of Cocula. It said their incinerated remains were then thrown in a nearby river. Genetic testing of remains the government said it recovered from the river confirmed the identities of two of the missing students.

The families of the missing students have strongly rejected the government’s investigation.

In Friday’s press conference, Torres appeared beside Eber Betanzos, Mexico’s deputy attorney general for human rights, and took no questions.

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