Body of Ugandan priest found in mass grave in Mexico

Federal police officers enter a cave to search for the 43 missing trainee teachers of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College Raul Isidro Burgos, in the town of San Jeronimo, in the municipality of Cuetzala, in the southwestern state of Guerrero November 13, 2014.
Mexican federal police officers enter a cave to search for the 43 missing trainee teachers of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College Raul Isidro Burgos, in the town of San Jeronimo, in the municipality of Cuetzala, in the southwestern state of Guerrero November 13, 2014.

The body of a Roman Catholic priest from Uganda who went missing in southwestern Mexico has been found in a mass grave as authorities search for the remains of 43 missing trainee teachers feared massacred, the local diocese said on Friday.

The remains of the priest, identified as John Ssenyondo, were dug up about a week ago and identified by the recovered skull as well as dental records. He had been missing since May, the state attorney general’s office said. “It was found in a mass grave with six other bodies,” said a spokesperson for the diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, in the troubled southwestern state of Guerrero where the government say the trainee teachers were abducted in late September by corrupt police in league with a drug gang. Ssenyondo was allegedly abducted by armed men after refusing to baptize a girl who was suspected of being the daughter of a local gangster, the spokesperson added. He had been serving in the mostly indigenous area of Guerrero since 2010. The state attorney general’s office said the priest had been reported missing, but could not confirm that his remains had been identified.

The government has detained more than 70 people in connection with the disappearance of the students from the southwestern city of Iguala. On Thursday, a judge in Guerrero charged the city’s former mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, accused of being the mastermind behind the students’ disappearance, with the murder of six people killed in clashes between the trainees, police and masked gunmen on the night of Sept. 26. They could not have known that what started off as a routine drive to raise funds would end in one of the gravest criminal acts in recent history in Mexico. Several of the 43 disappeared students had only recently arrived in Ayotzinapa, a small town in Guerrero State, to start classes at the teachers college when they were hauled into official vehicles by local police, not to be seen again.

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