Thursday 15 November 2018

New report says Dwyer opened fire on police in shootout

Jeff Farrell in Santa Cruz and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Conflicting reports emerged yesterday from Bolivia over whether an Irishman fired shots at police before he was killed.

Bolivian authorities investigating the death of Michael Dwyer released a ballistics report on Monday which claims the Tipperary man opened fire on police officers.

Security forces killed Mr Dwyer and two other men in the Hotel Las Americas in Santa Cruz on April 16. Police alleged the group was involved in a plot to assassinate Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Traces of gunpowder found on Mr Dwyer's hands prove the 24-year-old was killed in a shootout, a Bolivian prosecutor has said. But this contradicts earlier reports and eyewitness statements that there was no crossfire.

Another police probe of the raid on the hotel signalled that Mr Dwyer was not involved in a shootout but was executed by special forces.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Dwyer family said they had been informed that it could take up to six months for an official report into the killing. He added that the family would not be making any comment before the release of this report.

Critics have called for an independent inquiry to show if the alleged gunpowder detected on the Tipperary man's hands was present before or only after his death.

Images of the aftermath of the dawn raid in Hotel Las Americas showed Mr Dwyer in his underwear, suggesting he had been asleep before the raid.

The 24-year-old had two guns and several rounds of ammunition in his room, according to a police report seen by this newspaper. Early reports said it was unclear if he had fired the weapons.

A special police investigation into the raid has indicated in preliminary findings that there was no shootout between the security forces and Mr Dwyer.

Traces of gunpowder were also found on the hands of two other men killed in the hotel swoop, according to the report.

The lawyers of two other men arrested at the scene have called for an independent probe to show if gunpowder residue came to be on the men's hands before or after the fatal raid.



Aftermath

Government figures in the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz claim there was no terrorist plot to kill Bolivia's leftist leader and the police operation was a show to link high-profile Morales' critics to the alleged terrorist group.

Photographs taken in the aftermath of the shootings, seen by this newspaper, show a pistol on the floor next to the slain body of Eduardo Rozsa Flores (49). No weapon is seen in the adjacent room, where Mr Dwyer was killed.

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