AMLO says Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed interest in missing students case

Relatives of the missing students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College protest in Mexico City (Photo: REUTERS)

On Friday, July 28th, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he received a letter from the Israeli prime minister offering to help with a probe into the 2014 disappearance of 43 students, after requests from Mexico to extradite a former top official.

Tomas Zeron, head of Mexico’s criminal investigation agency between 2014 and 2016, under the previous government, is wanted on accusations of having helped engineer a cover-up of the abduction of the youths from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in the southwestern state of Guerrero in September 2014.

Zeron, who Mexican officials say fled to Israel in 2020, has previously denied allegations of wrongdoing over the matter, one of Mexico’s most notorious human rights scandals.

Lopez Obrador requested help from then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in 2021, and last month said he had also written to current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I just received a letter from Israel’s prime minister about his interest in helping us. Because one of the people who participated in covering up the crime … is in Israel,” Lopez Obrador told his daily press conference, referring to Zeron.

“We are asking for him to be extradited,” he said.

He did not say whether Israel had agreed to Zeron’s extradition.

Israel’s embassy in Mexico said it could not comment on correspondence between heads of state.

Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 promising to resolve the case, which his administration has called a “state crime” for both the disappearance and an alleged cover-up that involved multiple levels of government.

The remains of only three of the 43 students have so far been formally identified, and Lopez Obrador in recent days has vowed to find out what happened to the youths.