MEXICO CITY – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or IACHR, experts investigating the disappearance of 43 education students in southern Mexico said Monday they would not be able to interview soldiers from the 27th Battalion stationed in Iguala, a city in Guerrero state, due to the restriction that it be done in writing.
Relatives of the students who disappeared last September say army personnel may have played a role in what happened, but the government said the request would have to be handled as part of the criminal investigation.
The IACHR experts initially agreed to accept written statements as long as they were present and could suggest questions, but they were told on Sunday that they could submit questions but not take part in the process, a condition they rejected.
“We’re not going to give them the questions, we wouldn’t have control over how or what they answered,” Chilean expert Francisco Cox said in a press conference.
The IACHR experts are on their fifth visit to Mexico as part of the investigation of the disappearances in Iguala.
The Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School students disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014, at the hands of corrupt municipal police officers working with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.
Officials said the experts’ presence when soldiers were giving statements would “jeopardize the legality of the investigation,” Cox said.
The experts plan to present their conclusions on what happened to the students on Sept. 6, when their six-month term is up.
The IACHR experts refused to comment on what those conclusions might be.
The experts, however, said they have asked the Mexican government to extend their mandate so they can continue investigating the disappearances.
The IACHR team’s members are Cox; Colombians Alejandro Valencia and Angela Buitrago; Spain’s Carlos Beristain and Guatemala’s Claudia Paz.
The group of experts was formed under an agreement signed by the IACHR, the Mexican government and the missing students’ families.