THERE WAS NO INCINERATION IN COCULA, EAAF CONCLUDES
By: José Antonio Román
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF, the team’s initials in Spanish) concluded that there is no scientific evidence that indicates that the mass incineration of the 43 Ayotzinapa teachers college students was carried out in the Cocula garbage dump, as the version defended by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) asserts, and with which he sought to consider the case resolved.
Nor was evidence found to establish any correspondence between the elements recovered in said garbage dump –among them the bone remains of 19 persons– and the disappeared students.
Satellite images of the garbage dump obtained by the EAAF, through diverse institutions, show that the area of the fire on said dump’s lower surface –that the PGR indicates as the one utilized to burn the remains of the 43 normalistas– has in reality been used in previous fires at least since 2010. Therefore, one cannot talk about a single event that occurred on September 26 and 27, 2014, the date on which the youths disappeared.
In the expert opinion made public this Tuesday, they took an hour to explain the methodology and principal conclusions derived from this independent study, which required more than a year of work for a team of 30 specialists of different branches and nationalities. They also pointed to diverse and serious irregularities that personnel of the PGR committed. One of them is related to 20 of the genetic profiles from the normalistas’ families that the attorney general’s office sent to the laboratory at Innsbruck, because they were different from those the EAAF sent, although being from the same people.
Another inconsistency was what occurred on November 15, 2014, when experts and agents from the Public Ministry collected evidence at the Cocula garbage dump without the presence of or warning to the Argentine team, when the agreement was to work together. On that occasion, casually, 42 new shells were located ‘‘under a rock’’ placed in an area that had been searched a day before without finding anything.
At a press conference held in the installations of the Pro Human Rights Center (Centro Pro), the experts Mercedes Dorotti and Miguel Nieva pointed out that, in the opinion of the EAAF, sufficient scientific elements do not exist to link the remains found in the Cocula garbage dump with those recovered, according to the PGR, in the bag from the San Juan River, from which comes the only positive identification to date of one of the disappeared students, whose name is Alexander Mora Venancio.
The opinion –in which they incorporated a report about the site as well as a laboratory report– was already delivered to the PGR, a body that was invited to carry out, to analyze and to compare ‘‘together with the experts’’ the results reached for the different studies on the Cocula garbage dump.
Santiago Aguirre, assistant director of the Centro Pro, a body that represents the parents of the 43 disappeared youths, emphasized the public and detailed presentation of the EAAF’s opinion, thus subject to public scrutiny, a situation to which the PGR’s report has not been submitted.
Among its conclusions, the opinion of the Argentine team points out that the investigation on the Ayotzinapa students cannot be concluded, while an important quantity of evidence still lacks processing. More time is needed for analysis of the bone remains and associated evidence. This task will take several months of work. It suggests that this must be interpreted in all of its possibilities, without giving preference to those interpretations that only include a possible agreement with the testimonies from those accused.
Accompanied by the parents, students from the rural teachers college and lawyers, the two members of the EAAF that presented the report said that the interdisciplinary team that participated in its elaboration is specialized in areas like archaeology, criminalistics, entomology and forensic botany, as well as ballistics, fire dynamics and interpretation of satellite images, among others.
Besides, in order to conclude the scientific impossibility of producing a fire at that site with the size and intensity necessary to reduce 43 bodies to ashes, confronting the scientific evidence with the testimonial was determinative. The EAAF points out that the information derived from the statements of the alleged perpetrators ‘‘presented contradictions, like the way in which forma the victims’ remains were placed, the pneumatics (tires), the tree trunks, and the rest of the material; it varies significantly.”
Therefore, ‘‘we do not support the hypothesis that there was a fire of the magnitude required and of the reported duration,’’ the basis of the PGR’s assumption. They pointed out that although 132 shells were found at the site, among them rifle shells, the calibers of the majority do not correspond to what those implicated say they fired.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee