Mexico: AG's investigations chief gets national security job

MEXICO CITY (AP) " The former head of investigations for the Mexican Attorney General's Office, who has been criticized for his handling of the case of 43 disappeared students, was named a national security adviser hours after he resigned his previous post.

A statement from the Interior Department late Wednesday announced that Tomas Zeron will be technical secretary for the National Security Council, a position appointed by and reporting directly to President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Zeron's dismissal had been demanded by the families of the 43 teachers' college students who disappeared in September 2014 after they were taken by local police in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero. They were allegedly handed over to a drug gang and slain, and have not been heard from since.

Zeron was at the center of the government's widely criticized investigation, which has failed to definitively determine what happened to the students. Two independent teams of experts have cast doubt on its insistence that their bodies were incinerated in a huge fire at a trash dump.

Zeron oversaw the criminal investigation agency of the Attorney General's Office and also its forensic work.

Human rights activist Mario Patron said in an interview with Radio Formula on Thursday that Zeron's departure and subsequent appointment to the National Security Council appear to signal that he will be absolved of errors in the investigation of the disappearances.

"The political message surrounding his exit does not seem to us to be the most adequate," said Patron, director of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center. "He is not leaving in order to make possible a profound investigation into the possible violation of the parents' right to the truth."

At a news conference Thursday in the Mexican capital, Mario Gonzalez, the father of one of the disappeared students, said families of continue to be frustrated with the investigation and suggested that officials have withheld evidence to protect unnamed persons.

"For us it is outrageous that when he has an open investigation they reward him with a higher position," Gonzalez said. "It is a mockery, but not only for the parents of the 43 but for all Mexicans."

The Interior Department statement said Zeron's appointment was "a recognition of his actions and responds to the experience and capability he has demonstrated in his previous positions."

The disappeared students attended the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa. They were in Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014, to hijack buses to use for transportation to a rally in Mexico City. They were attacked on the buses by local police and allegedly handed over to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel.


Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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