An investigation proved police were behind the shooting, tampered with evidence, and planted weapons at the scene to back their claims.
After a nine-year battle for justice, Mexico made an official apology Tuesday for the murder of two tech students, killed at the hands of the military in 2010.
"On behalf of the Mexican State, I offer you a public apology for the violation of your rights in the context of the excessive use of force for which your children were deprived of their lives," Secretary of the Interior (Segob), Olga Sanchez Cordero, told surviving family members.
Jorge Antonio Mercado Alonso, 23, and Javier Francisco Arredondo, 24, were attending the University of Technology of Monterrey pursuing a science masters and a doctorate in manufacturing and engineering. However, their studies were cut short on the night of March 19, 2010, when the pair were gunned down by state militia outside their campus for alleged connections to organized crime.
At first, authorities denied their role in the 2010 shooting, saying the deaths were a tragic accident, collateral damage of an unfortunate crossfire, or the result of their alleged involvement with local gangs.
However, an investigation from the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) later showed that not only did police gun down the students, but they also tampered with evidence at the scene and planted weapons to back their claims.
Rosa Elvia Mercado, mother of Jorge, told BBC, "We realized that it was not an error, it was not crossfire, they had been executed in cold blood and not satisfied with that they were beaten, dragged, their identity was stolen and even more infamously they declared that they were assassins.”
In a tweet, Sanchez Cordero wrote, “I offer you an apology for the damage to the image and the honor of Jorge and Javier, derived from the false accusations of the authorities and for the alteration of the scene of the events.
"The parents and relatives fought against the pain, suffering, impunity and unworthy treatment they gave their children and always sought decorum.
"The State recognizes that Jorge Antonio Mercado Alonso and Javier Francisco Arredondo were excellent students of the Tec de Monterrey, not assassins," the secretary added.
Of the six state militiamen suspected of perpetrating the students’ murder, three are being prosecuted for homicide, two are fugitives, and one was allegedly “disappeared.”