New questions over Bolivia death


An Irish ambassador is to travel to Bolivia in the coming weeks for talks with officials into the circumstances surrounding the death of Irishman Michael Dwyer in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz in April 2009.

The decision follows a meeting today between the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Bolivia’s deputy foreign minister Juan Carlos Alurralde at the summit between EU leaders and their colleagues from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in Santiago.

It is understood that during the meeting, which was described as frank and very direct, Mr Gilmore called unacceptable the failure for almost four years by the Bolivian government to respond to correspondence from the current and previous Irish governments about the case.

He said the Irish government had shown patience but that it now wanted answers to questions raised about the circumstances in which Mr Dwyer was killed, also highlighting the failure by Bolivian authorities to respond to enquiries into the case made by the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the bloc’s External Action Service.

Mr Dwyer’s family are demanding an independent international inquiry and have submitted a report to the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions highlighting evidence they say shows Bolivian authorities are covering up his summary execution.

Mr Alurralde is understood to have personally committed to arranging for the Irish ambassador to meet with the relevant authorities when in Bolivia.

Mr Dywer was shot dead in his hotel room by police on April 16th 2009.

Two other men in the hotel with him were also killed. The Bolivian authorities claim the group’s leader Eduardo Rózsa Flores had been recruited by leading opposition figures to assassinate president Evo Morales and foment secessionist violence in the anti-government stronghold of Santa Cruz.

Rózsa Flores left a video saying he had returned to Bolivia from Europe in order to defend Santa Cruz. The Tánaiste acknowledged the concern about a plot against President Morales and said that Ireland had no time for terrorism.

Two men with Dwyer who were arrested by the police who raided the hotel are currently on trial along with leading members of the political opposition to President Morales in Santa Cruz. The investigation and trial have been plagued by delays and irregularities, along with leaks that have called the Bolivian government’s version of events into question.

Last year the government’s chief lawyer was withdrawn from the trial’s prosecution after he was accused of seeking to extort money from a US businessman in jail in Bolivia, accused of drug trafficking.