August 17, 2015 / 9:19 PM / 2 years ago

Mexico blocks military's testimony on slain students: Americas group

(L-R) Members of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) Alejandro Valencia, Francisco Cox, Claudia Paz and Carlos Beristain attend a news conference in Mexico City, August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - An international human rights body said on Monday that Mexico’s government denied it interviews with military personnel in the case of 43 students who were abducted and apparently massacred last year.

A team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which is part of the Organization of American States, began investigating the case in March at the request of victims’ families, with the agreement of the government.

But in a news conference on Monday they said that they had not been allowed to speak to military personnel from the 27th infantry battalion, based in the southwestern city of Iguala, where the students disappeared.

Instead, the military personnel, whom the IACHR believes may have witnessed disappearances, could only be questioned via a written questionnaire, which the team opted against submitting.

The IACHR said that these were the only interviews that had been denied to them so far.

Mexico’s interior ministry declined to comment on the charge, and re-sent a statement saying that Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and IACHR members had met with the victims’ families on Friday.

Mexico’s Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.

The government says that the students were abducted by corrupt police, who handed them over to a violent drug gang that killed them and incinerated their bodies. The remains of just one of the 43 has been identified.

Reporting by Anahi Rama and Lizbeth Diaz, writing by Christine Murray, editing by Simon Gardner and Grant McCool

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