The mayor of the Mexican city where an attack by gang-linked police left six people dead and 43 students missing faces negligence charges for attending a party during the violence, authorities said Thursday.
Guerrero state prosecutor Inaky Blanco said Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, who has gone into hiding, failed in his duty to protect the students during violence almost two weeks ago that also left some two dozen people injured.
The mayor, Blanco said, was negligent "in the sense that he preferred to continue to be at a party and later have dinner and then sleep."
The Iguala mayor "left the victims at the mercy of public security members," the prosecutor said.
He added that authorities did not arrest Abarca before he disappeared last week because he has immunity as mayor.
Blanco said four more municipal police officers have been arrested on homicide charges, in addition to 22 who were detained earlier.
Officials also arrested four alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos gang, which prosecutors said worked hand-in-hand with police during the assault.
The case has outraged Mexicans, who held protests across the country Wednesday to demand the return of the students.
The victims were students at a teachers college who disappeared on the night of September 26 after Iguala police officers linked to a gang opened fire on the buses the young men had commandeered to go home. The police then took several of them away in patrol cars.
Fears over the students' fate rose last week after authorities found a mass a grave containing 28 bodies.
Two hitmen from the Guerreros Unidos gang confessed to executing 17 of the 43 students at the same grave site, but authorities say it will take weeks to confirm the identities of some bodies, which had been badly burned.
Mexican media, citing an intelligence services report, said Abarca's wife asked police to confront the students because she had been worried that they would interrupt a speech she was giving that day. Her husband reportedly told police to punish the students.
Blanco said his office has not received any complaints against the mayor's wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, whose late brothers were members of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, which founded the Guerreros Unidos.