An international human rights group says that Mexican police knowingly withheld and destroyed evidence pertaining to the 43 abducted and allegedly massacred college students who went missing last September in the city of Iguala.
A team of experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which is part of the Organization of American States, revealed during a press conference that the Mexican authorities omitted to notify the families of the 43 college students that shortly after their disappearance, the officials found some of the young men’s clothing, FoxNews Latino reports.
According to the independent group of experts, which will issue its final report on September 6, it is likely that security camera video footage supporting the evidence was destroyed as well. The IACHR group asked the Mexican government for an extension of their investigation mandate to continue investigating the disappearances more deeply.
The IACHR team began its investigations in March 2015 after a request by the victims’ families. The experts say they weren’t allowed to speak to military personnel in person. Reuters reports that this was the only time that the team was refused an interview. So far, the Mexican Interior and Defense Ministries haven’t made a comment on the news.
The 27th infantry battalion personnel based in the southwestern city of Iguala agreed to be questioned through a written questionnaire, an arrangement that IACHR 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 on Monday, Aug. 17.
The IACHR team and many victims’ families believe that soldiers might have played a role in the disappearance of the students.
Out of the 43 missing male students, just one’s remains have been identified so far. The Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School students were abducted during a demonstration in September, 2014. The students were protesting against discriminatory hiring practices in their town. On the day of their disappearance, six students were also killed.
The college students are believed to have been taken by corrupt police officers and then handed over to a violent drug gang, the Guerreros Unidos, who killed and then incinerated their bodies. The drug gang confessed to the killing and burning of the students after getting them from the municipal police officers.
Last week, missing students activist Miguel Angel Jimenez Blanco, who had contributed to the discovery of mass graves, was found dead in Xaltianguis.
The state of Guerrero is a heavily violent area due to its opium production. It is a battleground for drug cartels and drug gangs. Since the beginning of the year, over 943 people have been killed in Guerrero.