Saturday 18 November 2017

Frustrated family of man shot dead in Bolivia look to Europe for justice

Conor Kane

THE family of an Irishman shot dead by security forces in Bolivia a year ago are to take their campaign for justice to the European Parliament.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the death of Michael Dwyer (24), who was killed by an elite police squad in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

The young man from Ballinderry near Nenagh in north Tipperary was shot in a hotel room along with a Hungarian man and a Bolivian native with Croatian roots.

They were gunned down after the 30-strong police unit arrived at the Hotel Las Americas in the early hours of April 16 2009, and made their way to the hotel room before unleashing a hail of gunfire.

The killing shocked Mr Dwyer's family, who have vehemently refuted claims from the Bolivian authorities that the 24-year-old was part of a terrorist plot to assassinate President Evo Morales.

Now the family say they are "frustrated" by the lack of progress with their plea for an international independent investigation into the deaths.

The Irish Independent has learnt the Dwyers will travel to the European Parliament next month to present their case to Irish MEPs and, possibly, to the parliament's Human Rights Committee.

"The family are frustrated at the moment," said a spokesperson for Michael's parents Caroline and Martin and siblings Ciara, Aisling and Emmett.

"They are thankful to everyone, including the Government, who are doing their best, but from the family's perspective, it's one year on and we're no closer to the truth. If anything we're further away from it because there's nothing but wild allegations being drip-fed through the media every day."


Since the killings last year, many theories and rumours have emanated from Bolivia about Mr Dwyer's reasons for being in Santa Cruz, and why the Bolivians felt the need to kill him and the two others -- Bolivian national Eduardo Rosza and Hungarian Magyarosi Arpak. Mr Rosza was said to be the leader of a mercenary gang.

Chief of police Victor Hugo Escobar initiated the theory about the assassination plot, but senate opposition leader Oscar Ortiz later said the conspiracy idea was put forward to discredit Mr Morales's rivals.

Mr Dwyer was a graduate in construction management and worked in security with the International Risk Management Services company for some time.

He later travelled to the US and the family understood last year that he moved on to Bolivia to train as a bodyguard.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has backed the Dwyers' call for an independent international probe into the Santa Cruz shootings, but officials have met with resistance from their Bolivian counterparts.

"So far, it's not really yielding results," the family's spokesperson said. For this reason, Nenagh-based MEP Alan Kelly has set up next month's meetings in Strasbourg.

There are no current plans for the Dwyers to travel to Bolivia as part of their quest for answers, although it remains an option. However, they would like to see the Government sending a senior public figure, who would command international respect, on a fact-finding mission to the south American country, the spokesperson said.

Irish Independent

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