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Latin America

Human rights panel blames Mexico for delaying Iguala massacre inquiry

Experts want to speak to soldiers who saw the students the night they disappeared

Juan Diego Quesada
People pay homage in Mexico City this past weekend to the 43 students killed last September in Iguala, Guerrero state.
People pay homage in Mexico City this past weekend to the 43 students killed last September in Iguala, Guerrero state.EFE

The Mexican army has delayed a request by a panel of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to interview a group of soldiers who crossed paths with the 43 teaching students in Iguala the same night they were kidnapped and massacred.

In a statement made public on Monday, the IACHR said it had asked the military three months ago to interview the troops from the 27th Battalion stationed in Iguala, but has so far not received a response.

The soldiers reportedly saw the students at a hospital the night they were kidnapped and killed

The soldiers reportedly saw the students at a hospital and, according to an official report, then immediately went back to their military base, where they stayed for the remainder of the evening.

Some family members of the students have long maintained that their loved ones were killed by the military, while others believe that the soldiers have knowledge of what really occurred on the night of September 26.

The Mexican government claims that the students, who arrived in Iguala for a political protest, were killed by hit men hired by drug traffickers and local elected officials. At least 100 people have been arrested in connection with the murders, including the mayor of Iguala and his wife,

The IACHR’s Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts said that it had received a vague response on Sunday from the Mexican defense secretary.

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“The government continues to analyze the petition,” defense officials wrote.

The panel fears the delay could hamper the inquiry it is carrying out. The experts have only six months to complete their investigation.

According to the panel, Mexican officials have fully complied with just 30 percent of the group’s petitions.

Among the sites the experts visited were the police facilities where the students were briefly held before they disappeared and the trash dump in nearby Cocula, where they were reportedly killed and their bodies were burnt. The experts also surveyed the river where the alleged traffickers reportedly dumped the charred remains.

The panel hopes to come up with a list of crimes and recommendations in its final report.

Guerrero, in south Mexico, is one of the poorest and most violent states in the country. It is also a focal point for left-wing political activism.

The night the students disappeared, they were collecting money and tried to hijack a bus to take them to Mexico City, where they planned on participating in a demonstration.

Mexican officials have fully complied with just 30 percent of the group’s petitions

They also took part in a protest at a political rally for the mayor of Iguala’s wife who was running for her husband’s seat in office.

International forensic experts could identify just one of the students from the remains fished out of the river because the DNA of the others had been destroyed when the bodies were burned.

Even though Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office has reached its own conclusions in the case, the panel of experts has called on prosecutors to take new statements from other students at the Ayotzinapa teaching school the victims attended who survived the attack and witnessed the events.

Mexico’s new Attorney General, Arely Gómez, has said she will meet the families of the 43 students in the coming days.

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