Experts: Mexico jeopardizes justice in missing students case

MEXICO CITY – A group of international experts investigating the 2014 disappearances of 43 students in southern Mexico denounced on Thursday the country’s attorney general for creating “obstacles” to justice, apparently in a rush to show results.

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the Sept. 26, 2014 abduction and forced disappearances of students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the southern state of Guerrero.

Group members said in a news conference that there was also additional evidence of the close relationship between the military and a local drug gang that have both been implicated in the students’ disappearances.

They spoke just two days after the special prosecutor who had led the government’s investigation since 2019 resigned. The reasons for Omar Gómez Trejo’s resignation remain unclear, but the investigators said his special unit had been blocked in its work by current Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero.

They also noted that the rush to charge former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, who was in office when the students disappeared, for manufacturing the previous administration’s account of what happened could ultimately jeopardize the case against him.

The experts expressed concern that this administration appeared to put more value on arrests than in arriving at convictions.

One detail that caused consternation for the students’ families just before the special prosecutor’s resignation was the revelation that 21 arrest orders announced previously by the Attorney General’s Office, including for 16 members of the military, had been canceled without explanation.

Claudia Paz, one of the group experts, said the withdrawal of those arrest orders did not conform with the “rule of law.”

Group members also said that they continued to be denied military intelligence, even though President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ordered the armed forces to give them full access to their archives.

The expert group’s mandate is scheduled to expire Friday. They asked that it be extended – something they said the government supports – so that they can continue the investigation and they called for the independence of the special prosecutor’s office to be respected.

“When you touch the justice (system) you cause great harm to the country,” said Angela Buitrago, another member of the group.

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