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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Bolivia hints at fresh inquiry as shots evidence fails to add up

Dwyer family question post mortem

Emmet Dwyer, brother of Michael, is consoled by his sister, Aisling, and parents, Martin Dwyer Snr (right) and Caroline (left) after the inquest into the death of Michael Dwyer yesterday
Emmet Dwyer, brother of Michael, is consoled by his sister, Aisling, and parents, Martin Dwyer Snr (right) and Caroline (left) after the inquest into the death of Michael Dwyer yesterday

Jason O'Brien

THE Bolivian government has indicated that it is willing to facilitate an international investigation into the shooting dead of Irishman Michael Dwyer after further discrepancies concerning his shooting were revealed yesterday.

The State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy told the inquest into his death that the 24-year-old died from a single gunshot wound to the heart.

She said that the Tipperary man had been shot once, and that the post mortem carried out in Bolivia was incomplete.

Her findings contradict those of the Bolivian authorities who claim that Mr Dwyer was shot six times.

Dr Cassidy also said that she could not confirm evidence from the Bolivian authorities that Mr Dwyer had fired a weapon during what has been described as a shootout with "SAS-style" Bolivian police in a hotel in Santa Cruz on 16 April.

Two other men -- said to have been with Mr Dwyer -- were also killed, with evidence yesterday that a total of 51 bullets were fired in the hotel during the incident.

"As a family, we would like to know exactly what happened on that fatal night in Bolivia, when Michael was so cruelly taken from us," Mr Dwyer's family said afterwards.

"We want the truth. Only a well-resourced investigation, meeting internationally-recognised standards, into the circumstances of Michael's violent death can help us find the truth, and we urge the Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin to mobilise such an investigation.

"This is not only important for us as a family, but for human rights on a global scale."

Security

Dublin County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty heard evidence yesterday that Mr Dwyer had worked as a supervisor at for Integrated Risk Management Services, which provides security at Shell's Corrib pipeline in Co Mayo, until last October.

In November, he travelled with two former IRMS employees -- a Hungarian and a Slovenian -- to Bolivia to undergo a bodyguard course.

The two other men soon returned when it fell through, but Mr Dwyer remained in Bolivia and told his parents at home in Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, that he was working in security.

The Bolivian Ambassador to the UK, Beatriz Souviron, gave evidence that Mr Dwyer's flights to Santa Cruz were paid by a businessman, Alejandro Melgar, who has links with a separatist group in Bolivia.

She said that Mr Dwyer was soon under surveillance because of the company he was keeping, including Rozsa Flores, a former combatant in the Balkans war, described as the leader of a terrorist group.

She said that the group had been linked to a number of attacks or planned attacks in Santa Cruz, and the police raided the Hotel Las Americas on 16 April to arrest the men.

The Bolivian authorities have previously said that the men were involved in a plot to assassinate president Evo Morales, and that the three men, including Flores, died in 'crossfire' when resisting arrest.

However, in response to questions from Paul Malone, the Dwyers' solicitor, yesterday, the ambassador said she could not confirm from which guns the 51 bullets had been fired during the incident.

She could not confirm if any of the police officers had been injured.

She also said that two weapons -- a 9mm and a .22 calibre pistol -- had been found in Mr Dwyer's hotel room.

The jury recorded an 'open' verdict in the inquest, as directed by the coroner.

Speaking afterwards, Ambassador Suveron said the Bolivian government would be willing to co-operate with an international investigation taking place and would welcome any help in relation to its ongoing investigation, but she had earlier indicated that she would have to ask her foreign minister.

Irish Independent

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