Six of the 43 college students who "disappeared" in 2014 were allegedly kept alive in a warehouse for days, then turned over to the local army commander, who ordered them killed, the Mexican government official leading a truth commission said Friday. Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas made the shocking revelation directly tying the military to one of Mexico's worst human-rights scandals, and it came with little fanfare as he made a lengthy defense of the commission's report released a week earlier, per the AP. Last week, despite declaring the abductions and disappearances a "state crime" and saying that the army watched it happen without intervening, Encinas made no mention of six students being turned over to Col. Jose Rodriguez Perez.
On Friday, Encinas said authorities were closely monitoring the students from the radical Ayotzinapa teachers college from the time they left their campus through their abduction by local police in the town of Iguala that night. A soldier who'd infiltrated the school was among the abducted students, and Encinas asserted the army didn't follow its own protocols and try to rescue him. "There is also information corroborated with [emergency calls] where allegedly six of the 43 disappeared students were held during several days and alive in what they call the old warehouse and from there were turned over to the colonel," Encinas said. "Allegedly the six students were alive for as many as four days after the events and were killed and disappeared on orders of ... then Col. Jose Rodriguez Perez."
The commission report says the army registered an anonymous emergency call on Sept. 30, 2014, four days after the students' abduction. The caller reportedly said the students were being held in a large concrete warehouse in a location described as "Pueblo Viejo." Later, there's mention of a colonel who "mentions that they will take care of cleaning everything up and that they had already taken charge of the six students who had remained alive," per the report. The role of the army in the students' disappearance has long been a source of tension between the families and the government. From the beginning, there were questions about the military's knowledge of what happened and its possible involvement. Mexico's defense department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the allegations Friday.
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