MEXICO CITY – The Mexican government has still not arranged for an independent team of investigators to interview soldiers with knowledge of events in which 43 college students disappeared in southern Mexico last year.
The team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Monday in a news conference that the government wrote on Sunday that officials are still analyzing the request three months after it was made. The group said the delay limited its ability to advance.
"The official answer that we have is that there is still no answer," said investigator Francisco Cox. Soldiers from the army's 27th Battalion in Iguala responded to the scenes where the attacks occurred. The independent investigators said they want to interview several dozen soldiers just as they have with other witnesses.
The government says students from a rural teachers college in the state of Guerrero were seized by police in Iguala on Sept. 26, and turned over to a criminal gang that killed and incinerated them. The remains of only one of the students have been identified.
Since the team's last update in May, they visited the Iguala police station, the dump in Cocula where the government says the students' remains were burned and the river where the ashes were allegedly dumped. They also said they had interviewed former Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, who the government has said ordered the capture of the students. The team, which was formed to analyze the government's investigation and make recommendations, has two months remaining on its mandate.
The team also concluded that the students had not initially planned to go to the bus station in downtown Iguala when they set out from their school that afternoon. They were looking to hijack more buses and collect money for an upcoming trip to Mexico City, but the decision to enter Iguala was made on the spur of the moment.
One version of events that circulated soon after the students' disappearance was that they came to Iguala to disrupt a speech being given by the mayor's wife or the mayor at least had that impression, leading him to order police to intercept them.
The team also said that 30 percent of its requests for information from the government have been filled completely, while 24 percent have been answered partially and the rest are being processed.