UN investigator sought Bolivia killing inquiry
A UN special investigator wrote to the Bolivian authorities a year ago seeking an investigation into the death of Irish man Michael Dwyer and two other men in 2009 after the government there claimed they were involved in a plot to assassinate the president.
Michael Dwyer’s relatives were made aware of the letter yesterday when they met UN officials working with Christof Heyns, special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, in Geneva. They held a second meeting with Ireland’s permanent representation to the UN.
Police in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, claimed Mr Dwyer was one of three men they killed in a shoot- out at the Hotel Las Americas in the city on April 16th, 2009, after they uncovered a right-wing plot against President Evo Morales.
The family believes the evidence shows Mr Dwyer was not involved in a shoot-out, as claimed by the Bolivian authorities, and that he had been asleep when he was killed.
They believe the Bolivian authorities concocted the terrorism allegation and accuse them of stonewalling efforts to find out what happened.
Yesterday they presented the findings of a postmortem conducted by State Pathologist Marie Cassidy, as well as an independent report by UK forensics expert Keith Borer. Both indicate that Mr Dwyer was shot in the heart.
The Dwyers first made a submission to Mr Heyns in September 2010 and called on him to initiate an investigation.
Mr Dwyer (24), Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, had gone to Bolivia to train in the security business and he took up work in personal security while there. He had graduated from NUI Galway and had worked as a guard on the Shell Corrib gas refinery in Mayo.
In a statement after yesterday’s meeting, the family said the opportunity to put their case to the UN special rapporteur’s office was “very useful and welcome”.
“Significantly, we learned that the UN special rapporteur has already corresponded with the Bolivian authorities and – to this end – issued a ‘letter of allegation’ on 9th August, 2011,” they said.
That letter sought a response from the Bolivian authorities to the allegations and expressed concern at evidence showing Mr Dwyer was shot several times after his body had already been disabled. It also sought a response from the Bolivian government within 60 days.
“We now hope that – based on the information we provided today, including that of Dr Marie Cassidy and the report of the independent forensic expert, Keith Borer – the special rapporteur will be equipped to resume work on our case,” the family said yesterday.
Their statement added that UN involvement in attempting to establish the circumstances of Mr Dwyer’s execution was vital.
“As a family, we can only knock on doors and exert pressure. We feel that today an important door has been opened and we hope for progress into establishing the reasons behind Michael’s execution in April 2009,” they said.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore met the family last September. Officials had also met the Dwyer family several times, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. It remained in contact with the family.
“A number of representations have also been made to the Bolivian authorities, in which it has been indicated that we would be willing to participate in any way which might be helpful with an independent, international investigation into the death of Mr Dwyer,” the department said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who was minister for foreign affairs at the time of Mr Dwyer’s shooting, called for a full independent and external inquiry into the killing.
He also urged the United Nations to support the request being made by the Dwyer family.