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Mexico's 43 missing students 'main motivation' for Nobel interruption

By Claudia Rebaza and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 9:27 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Mexican national Adán Cortés was arrested after he interrupted the Nobel ceremony, standing steps away from the winners.
Mexican national Adán Cortés was arrested after he interrupted the Nobel ceremony, standing steps away from the winners.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mexican student Adán Cortés interrupted last week's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
  • He says his country's 43 missing students were his "main motivation"
  • "I am tired of so many injustices that we have lived in Mexico," he says
  • Oslo police were under fire after he slipped past security at the prestigious event

Read this story and watch the interview in Spanish at CNNEspanol.com

Oslo, Norway (CNN) -- At a prize ceremony honoring peace, Adán Cortés says violence and injustice sent him rushing toward the stage.

In a matter of seconds, the 21-year-old Mexican student's face was seen around the world last week as he stood in front of Malala Yousafzai at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

"Please Malala, Mexico," he repeated as he unfurled a Mexican flag on the stage at Oslo's City Hall, where the 17-year-old laureate was about to become the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious award.

Oslo police have come under fire over the incident, with critics asking how someone who wasn't on the ceremony's guest list managed to slip through security checkpoints and make it to the front of the room, standing just steps away from Yousafzai and other dignitaries before security hauled him out of the auditorium.

Speaking to CNN at an Oslo detention center on Sunday, Cortés said he knows it was a drastic move. But he felt like he had no choice and wanted only a few seconds to speak about Mexico's problems on a global stage.

"My motivation was to show solidarity with all the things that have happened in my country, ultimately, well, the 43 missing students, who are suspected to be dead and burned, that was my main motivation," he said. "I am tired of so many injustices that we have lived in Mexico, for decades."

Malala is youngest Peace Prize winner
Remains of Mexican student identified
Forty-three students remain missing after armed men ambushed buses carrying students in southern Mexico on on September 26 .The Mexican state of Guerrero posted images and offered a reward of 1 million pesos ($74,000) for information leading to the missing students. Images of three missing students were not available. Forty-three students remain missing after armed men ambushed buses carrying students in southern Mexico on on September 26 .The Mexican state of Guerrero posted images and offered a reward of 1 million pesos ($74,000) for information leading to the missing students. Images of three missing students were not available.
Missing Mexican students
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Photos: Missing Mexican students Photos: Missing Mexican students

The students' case has sparked national outrage in Mexico and drawn global attention to the country's continued struggles to deal with police corruption and drug-related violence.

Authorities have said the students from a rural teachers college were rounded up on the orders of a local mayor, then delivered to the drug gang to be executed. Mexico's attorney general says the students' remains were burned at a landfill, placed inside plastic bags and thrown into a river. But so far, only one student's remains have been identified.

Cortés said he was seeking asylum in Norway, but authorities there have informed him that he'll be sent back to Mexico on Monday, Cortés and his attorney said.

Before learning that he was getting kicked out of Norway, he told CNN he was scared to return to his home country.

"I do not want to be one more student who disappears and who later turns up dead and the government later says that it was organized crime," he said.

Cortés told CNN he went through a security checkpoint with invited guests at last week's ceremony, but no one asked him for identification or stopped him as he approached the stage.

Security escorted Adán Cortés out of Oslo City Hall. Now, he says he\'s being sent back to Mexico.
Security escorted Adán Cortés out of Oslo City Hall. Now, he says he's being sent back to Mexico.

"I was really nervous. I was saying, 'This is my moment and this is my opportunity to speak out for all the people who I have seen suffer in Mexico,' " he said.

Oslo police said Cortés had been fined 15,000 kroner ($2,040) for nuisance and for entering the City Hall illegally.

Even critics who question the appropriateness of disrupting the Nobel ceremony would have done the same thing, he said, "if they had a little bit of empathy toward what all the families of so many people who have been killed and disappeared in Mexico have felt, this desperation and this impotence to not have a way to express themselves and demand justice."

CNN's Claudia Rebaza reported from Oslo. CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet wrote the story in Atlanta.

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