WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
18 Aug 2015 | News

Group of Experts on Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Case Release New Findings

On August 17, 2015, after five months of reviewing the Mexican government’s investigation of the Ayotzinapa case and exploring new lines of investigation, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts released its fifth report on its findings. In September 2014, students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ School (Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos) in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were attacked by local police while traveling in buses; three students were killed and 43 students were forcibly disappeared.

Below is a summary of four key points from the Group of Experts latest report on the findings and advances in the Ayotzinapa case:

  • Destruction of video evidence. A nearby security camera recorded video footage of the scene of the crime during the time the students were attacked.The video was submitted to Mexican authorities, however, it is now said to have been destroyed. If this is confirmed, important evidence has been lost.
  • Improper preservation of evidence. Clothing and other items found at the scene of the crime and collected by Mexican authorities in September were never submitted for forensic processing and were not presented to the victims’ relatives for identification. Additionally, the items were not properly preserved as evidence.
  • Interviewing the military. The Group of Experts received a response from the government regarding their request to interview soldiers of the 27th Battalion that were in the area during the night of the attack. The Group had made its initial request for these interviews upon beginning its mandate in March 2015. In its response, the Mexican government insists that questions for the soldiers be submitted in writing and does not allow for the Group of Experts to be present during the interviews.
  • A second autopsy. A review by an independent forensic expert of the autopsy performed on Julio César Mondragón, whose body was found the morning after the attack, shows that certain injuries were not examined and suggests that a second autopsy be carried out. The Group of Experts had previously requested that an independent forensic expert review the government’s autopsy of the bodies of the three students found after the attack.

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos y Expertas Independientes) was formed in November 2014 through an agreement between the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the Mexican government, and the students’ families and representatives, to provide technical assistance for the case. The Group of Experts had an initial mandate of six months with the possibility for extension. As the end of its mandate approaches, the Group of Experts is requesting a continuation from the Mexican government and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. The Group plans to release its sixth report on September 6, 2015.

For more information, see: Analysis and Information on Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Case