The director of the rural teachers' college in southwest Mexico attended by 43 students missing since September has been implicated in their disappearance, in what represents the latest twist in a case that continues to rock the nation.
According to Felipe Rodriguez Salgado, alias "El Cepillo," an alleged leader of the Guerreros Unidos gang implicated in their disappearance, Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College Director Jose Luis Hernandez Rivera was bribed by a member of criminal group Los Rojos to send the students to a protest in Iguala the night they were abducted, reported Proceso.
Following the accusation, Hernandez denied any involvement in the case, reported Milenio.
The alleged Guerreros Unidos leader had previously stated the criminal gang rounded up the missing students on their way to Iguala because they were believed to have members of Los Rojos among them. Salgado was arrested in mid-January, and has since confessed to killing at least 15 of the missing students.
InSight Crime Analysis
Salgado has been a key witness in the government's investigation into the missing students case. Mexican authorities have built their official version that the students were taken to a trash dump and burned last September in part based on testimony from Salgado and his accomplices, as well as biological and forensic evidence. (For a full recap of the Iguala case, click through InSight Crime's timeline below.)
SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles
Given the significant role Salgado has played in the investigation and the high number of suspects who have been arrested in connection to the case, the Mexican government may look closely into the accusation against Hernandez. Notably, the public release of Salgado's comments comes amid remarks by Mexico's Attorney General Jose Murillo Karam that the government's investigation into the case is still underway, despite widespread reporting it had been closed.
But no matter how Hernandez's case is resolved, it is unlikely to buy back the government any credibility among the Mexican population. Despite attempts to show transparency and silence critics of the investigation, there is growing doubt that the government's version of what happened to the students rings true. In January, one independent investigation determined the bodies were probably burned in an army crematorium, and magazine Proceso has found the government likely used torture to obtain testimony from witnesses.