[JURIST] Jose Luis Abarca, the former mayor of the Mexican city of Iguala, was charged [press release, in Spanish] Friday with six counts of aggravated homicide and one count of attempted homicide by prosecutors in the state of Guerrero. The charges stem from the September 26 disappearance of 43 students who who were en route to Iguala to protest lack of funds for their school. Abarca is described as the “probable mastermind” of the students’ death as it is believed the students were abducted and killed by police and gang members on Abarca’s orders. Abarca has been taken into custody along with his wife [Univision Report, in Spanish], Maria de los Angeles Pineda, who is identified as a leader in the drug-trafficking group Guerreros Unidos, which was allegedly integral in the execution of the attack and disappearance of the students.
The charges against Abarca come after the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances [official website] implored [JURIST report] the Mexican government to investigate the disappearances and noted that the steps taken would show the country’s willingness to respond to allegations of human rights violations. Accusations of human rights violations have plagued Mexico for years. One such allegation surfaced in late October when the Mexican military was accused [JURIST report] of covering up civilian murders perpetrated by their own soldiers.