Mexican judge accepts charges against ex-prosecutor in disappearance of 43 students

MEXICO CITY, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A Mexican judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to hear charges against former Attorney General Jesus Murillo for his alleged role in the 2014 disappearance of 43 students and its subsequent investigation, judicial authorities said on Wednesday.

Murillo, who was arrested on Friday in the first high-level detention of an official for involvement in the case, is accused of torture, forced disappearance and obstruction of justice. read more

The country's top prosecutor at the time, Murillo oversaw the highly criticized inquiry into the incident in which 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in the southwest state of Guerrero.

His arrest comes after Mexico's top human rights investigator called the disappearances "a state crime" last week, marking one of the worst human rights abuses in the country's history.

International experts have said Murillo's investigation, which concluded the students had been mistakenly killed by a local drug gang, was riddled with missteps and abuses, including the torture of witnesses.

Murillo defended himself during his indictment hearing Wednesday, according to local media.

"For seven years they have been looking for an alternative (account of events), they have invented many, and they all fall apart," Murillo said.

"I can accept some mistakes, mistakes could be made. I can accept things that were done wrong, but no one has been able to bring down (my investigation)," he added.

Murillo will remain in prison until his trial, the judge ruled late Wednesday.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office at the end of 2018, promising to look into the disappearances. Last week, a judge released nearly 100 arrest warrants related to the case, including Murillo's, prosecutors said.

The remains of only three of the students have ever been definitively identified.

Reporting by Diego Ore; Additional reporting by Raul Cortes; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Chris Reese & Shri Navaratnam

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