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Mexico president vows justice as report says teen raped and murdered

Mexico’s president on Friday promised justice to the parents of a teenager whose death triggered a public outcry.

A protester holds a picture of 18-year-old student Debanhi Escobar whose death in northern Mexico has unleashed public anger
A protester holds a picture of 18-year-old student Debanhi Escobar whose death in northern Mexico has unleashed public anger - Copyright POOL/AFP/File Pavel Golovkin
A protester holds a picture of 18-year-old student Debanhi Escobar whose death in northern Mexico has unleashed public anger - Copyright POOL/AFP/File Pavel Golovkin

Mexico’s president on Friday promised justice to the parents of a teenager whose death triggered a public outcry, after an independent forensic report concluded that she was raped and murdered.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met with the family of 18-year-old Debanhi Escobar, whose body was found last month in a motel water tank 12 days after she disappeared.

“I spoke with them and made a commitment to help clarify what happened and to ensure that there is no impunity,” Lopez Obrador said in the northern city of Monterrey, where the incident happened.

They are “very good people, a teacher, his wife, and as parents they are very hurt, broken,” he told reporters.

Escobar’s death is now being investigated as femicide, after originally being registered as a disappearance, Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejia said.

The forensic report commissioned by the family concluded that the law student suffered “a violent homicidal death,” and her body showed signs of a sexual violence, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais, which obtained the document.

Escobar’s family delivered the document to the state prosecutor’s office on May 2, the daily reported.

The official autopsy report, which has not been published, did not mention signs of sexual violence, according to El Pais.

Previously, prosecutors said that Escobar died of a blow to the head and that they were not ruling anything out, including an accident or murder.

An eerie photo taken on the night that Escobar disappeared showing her standing in the dark by the roadside after an altercation with a taxi driver went viral.

She quickly became a symbol for an angry women’s rights movement in a country where around 10 women are murdered every day.

The attorney general’s office in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, whose capital is Monterrey, dismissed two public prosecutors for “errors” and “omissions” in the case.

Theories about the teenager’s fate have spread on social networks and in some media, encouraged by videos released or leaked by prosecutors.

Her father Mario Escobar said in video posted late Thursday that if the prosecutor’s office was behind the leak of the forensic report to the media, then its heads should resign.

In 2021 alone, Mexico registered 3,751 murders of women, most of which are still unpunished.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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