Classmate of disappeared Mexican students brutally tortured, autopsy finds

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A classmate of 43 college students who disappeared in 2014 had been tortured before his body was found the day after the others went missing, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission said Monday.

A new autopsy determined 22-year-old Julio Cesar Mondragon suffered 64 fractures in 40 bones, mostly in his skull, face and spine, said Jose Trinidad Larrieta, who has led the commission's investigation in the case.

But Larrieta added that Mondragon's face was not skinned by his captors as some people had alleged, saying animals were responsible. The student died prior to that of brain injuries, he said.

The team of Argentine forensic experts who participated in the second autopsy at the family's request had similar findings in terms of the extent of the injuries and cause of death. But in a statement later Monday, the group said it believed that in addition to the work of animals on Mondragon's face, they detected signs of cutting. However, it added, having conducted the second autopsy more than a year later the conditions did not allow a more detailed determination.

The commission investigator called for federal prosecutors to investigate all suspects involved for torture. Up to this point Mondragon's case has remained in the hands of a local court apart from the disappearances of his 43 classmates, but torture is a federal charge so the commission expressed confidence that federal prosecutors would take it up.

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A total of 28 people are accused of murder in Mondragon's case, including the former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca. Larrieta said he believed there were 11 individuals, of whom five are in custody, who were directly involved in Mondragon's torture and death. One of them was an official with the local Civil Protection Agency.

Nearly two years later, no one has been tried.

Mondragon was one of six people killed in the city of Iguala when police attacked students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teachers college, on Sept. 26, 2014. His 43 classmates disappeared after police turned them over to a crime gang.

Mondragon had been aboard one of several buses the students hijacked that were later attacked by police. He appeared at an impromptu news conference held by the students following the initial attack and had recorded videos on his cellphone. He fled when police opened fire.

Soldiers found his body on a dirt road the next day.

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