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Bolivia victim's parents' heartbreaking delay in getting son's body home

THE parents of a young man shot dead in a raid by an elite Bolivian police unit three years ago said yesterday that the hardest aspect they endured was when they couldn't see their son's body after it was eventually brought home.

Michael Dwyer, 24, from Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, was shot in the heart and in the back after police raided his hotel room in Santa Cruz on April 16, 2009, while he apparently slept in bed.

His parents Martin and Caroline Dwyer are behind a campaign to have an international inquiry into his death.

They claim there was no police shoot-out in the hotel with Michael and his friends, that evidence was manipulated, and that the dead men could have been arrested at any time.

However, pictures released after Mr Dwyer's death show him and others posing with a variety of weapons, including Michael with a World War Two Sten sub-machinegun.

But it is still unclear if the weapons are real, or in what circumstances the pictures were taken.

In another photograph the Co Tipperary man is pictured with four semi-automatic pistols, two tucked down the front of his trousers while he holds another two guns in a bravado pose.

The pictures raised obvious questions as to why the group were apparently so heavily armed, where they got the weapons, and what they intended to use them for.

But yesterday his mother Caroline told RTE's The Marian Finucane Show: "Posing with a gun does not automatically make you a terrorist."

She criticised the intrusion by the media after her son's death while her husband Martin said he didn't believe his son could be involved in the activities suggested after his death.

"Michael was definitely not that type of person," his mother said, adding that they did not know the context in which the pictures of Michael with guns had been taken.

"He was just a country lad who did not have a clue about politics," his father insisted.

Mr Dywer said Michael didn't even know who Eduardo Rozsa-Flores, a sometime journalist and actor who fought in the Balkans, was. Mr Rozsa-Flores was also shot in the hotel room.

His mother said: "There is no way he would have got involved in something that was wrong."

Caroline added that there was no crossfire in the incident as the police claimed, and said an initial video of the hotel showed no outgoing gunfire from the group, although a second video showed gunshots in the corridor walls, suggesting police had later shot up the hotel.

There was also a large discrepancy between a post-mortem carried out on their son in Bolivia -- which showed no shot through the heart -- and one by the Irish state pathologist Marie Cassidy which showed a shot to the heart and four shots to the back as Michael lay on the ground.

The hotel manager in Bolivia was also able to confirm there were no guns beside Michael's body.

The Dwyer family is seeking support from MEPs for an international inquiry.

"It never added up in terms of the good character he was," his mother said.

Fine Gael Dublin MEP Gay Mitchell recently visited Bolivia as part of the EU's development committee and raised the case with both Bolivia's foreign minister and vice-president.

Sunday Independent