Mexico says fugitive in students’ disappearance case seeking Israeli asylum

Mexico says a fugitive former top investigator wanted in connection with the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 was seeking asylum in Israel, complicating extradition efforts.

Mexico has asked Israel to arrest Tomas Zeron, who headed the Criminal Investigation Agency, over allegations of serious irregularities in the probe into one of the country’s worst human rights tragedies.

Zeron “is trying to obtain asylum in Israel. That’s the legal strategy that they have, arguing that he is being persecuted,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tells reporters.

The move means the extradition process will take longer, he adds, but voices confidence that Mexico would be successful.

Zeron is accused of using torture to extract supposed confessions from suspects, enforced disappearance and embezzling around $55 million of public funds.

An international media investigation called “The Cartel Project” reported last month that he had fled to Israel with help from his contacts in the country’s cyber-surveillance industry.

The disappearance of the teaching students shocked Mexico and sparked mass protests against then-president Enrique Pena Nieto’s government.