A court in Tamaulipas, Mexico has dropped charges against four men accused of playing a role in the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa due to irregularities in the process and allegations of torture against officials.
Organized crime charges were dropped against Marco Antonio Rios “El Cuasi,” Luis Alberto Jose Gaspar “El Tongo,” Martin Alejandro Macedo Barrera “El Zorro” and Honorio Antunez Osorio “El Papachin”. Kidnapping charges also were dropped against two of the men.
Gaspar or “El Tongo" will, however, be the only member of the group allowed to leave the prison, with the other members of the group remaining in prison due to other pending charges.
Judge David Calderon Blanc ordered the release after concluding some of the testimonies were given under pressure or due to torture. He also concluded that the remaining evidence wasn't enough to sentence them on the charges.
Blanc made it clear, however, that his decision doesn't suggest the men are innocent or that they don't belong to a criminal organization since they were made with a “reservations” appendix. This means that the Public Ministry will be able to present new, lawful evidence to support the case.
Last week, a tribunal in the same state ordered the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Ayotzinapa case and called for the families of the missing students to be allowed to participate in it due to irregularities in the original investigation.
“(The investigation) by the federal prosecutor wasn’t quick, effective, independent or impartial,” as requested by the UN and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights' a press release from the court said.
Adding: "There is enough evidence to conclude that torture was used to obtain the confessions of the accused."
In 2015, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), said the investigation into the case was filled with a series of inconsistencies and called for a complete review of the matter.
On September 26, 2014, students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' School of Ayotzinapa went to Iguala for a political event when confronted and kidnapped by local police. According to the official version, they were later handed over to the "Guerreros Unidos" (United Warriors) cartel, murdered and incinerated.
Witnesses and evidence, however, suggest there was greater involvement by the military in the events.