MEXICO CITY – The spokesman for the parents of 43 trainee teachers who went missing nearly a year ago in southern Mexico on Thursday called into question the latest positive identification of human remains by a laboratory in Austria, saying there is insufficient “certainty” that they are those of one of the students.
The extent of the genetic match between one of the burned samples that Mexican authorities say was found in a trash dump and the DNA of teacher trainee Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz’s mother is “very low,” said the spokesman, Felipe de la Cruz.
“There’s not 100 percent certainty” in the results announced Wednesday by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office and less than in the case of the remains of Alexander Mora Venancio, who was first identified using conventional DNA technology last December by the lab in Innsbruck.
In the latest positive identification, it was determined that it was 72 times more likely than not that the remains were those of someone related to Guerrero de la Cruz’s mother via the maternal line, compared with 1,201 percent in the case of Mora Venancio.
“As long as there’s not 100 percent certainty and there’s a minimal probability, we have to continue with the investigative process. For us, these are not the remains of Jhosivani,” the spokesman said.
The University of Innsbruck’s forensic medicine institute on Thursday confirmed that it had successfully matched two severely burned samples provided by the Mexican government last November with “relevant family references” of two of the missing students, referring to Mora Venancio and Guerrero de la Cruz.
It said it used a novel technology known as Primer Extension Capture Massively Parallel Sequencing because conventional DNA technology was insufficient to analyze the vast majority of the severely damaged remains.
The parents and their supporters reject Mexican authorities’ official account of the events of Sept. 26, 2014, in the southern city of Iguala.
That night, police attacked students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a nearby teacher-training facility, as they traveled through the city on buses as part of a protest against education reforms. Six people – including three students – were killed and 43 other students abducted.
Federal authorities say the incident was the work of corrupt municipal cops acting on the orders of a corrupt mayor who had connections with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.
The cops handed over the students to cartel gunmen, who killed the young people and burned their bodies to ashes at a garbage dump in the nearby town of Cocula, according to the official story.
Earlier this month, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights experts said the bodies of the 43 education students who disappeared last year in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero “were not burned at the municipal trash dump in Cocula.”
The IACHR’s Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts said during the presentation of their report on Sept. 6 in Mexico City that it reached this conclusion based on the work done by Jose Torero, a well-known expert on fire.
After conducting field work, examining the evidence and reviewing the statements of the suspects in the case, Torero concluded that “no evidence exists to support the theory based on the statements that the 43 bodies were incinerated” at the dump on Sept. 27, 2014, the day after the students disappeared, the experts said.
The evidence gathered in the case shows that “the minimum amount of fire needed to cremate the bodies could not have occurred” at the dump in Cocula, not even enough to burn one body, the report said.