Michael Dwyer’s mother and sister make ‘emotional’ visit to hotel room where he was shot to death

Five-day visit to Bolivia part of family’s campaign for independent international inquiry into Dwyer’s death

Michael Dwyer: an elite police unit stormed the hotel  in which he was staying   on April 16th, 2009. Mr Dwyer and two others were shot dead in the raid. Photograph: PA Wire

Michael Dwyer: an elite police unit stormed the hotel in which he was staying on April 16th, 2009. Mr Dwyer and two others were shot dead in the raid. Photograph: PA Wire

 

The mother and sister of Michael Dwyer have made an “emotional but necessary” visit to the hotel room in Santa Cruz where the Irish man was shot dead by Bolivian police in 2009. Caroline Dwyer and her daughter Aisling went to the Hotel Las Americas shortly after arriving in the eastern Bolivian city yesterday.

They spent almost an hour on the fourth floor where Mr Dwyer and four companions were staying when an elite police unit stormed the hotel in the early hours of April 16th, 2009. Mr Dwyer and two others were shot dead in the raid.

After spending time in room 457 where her son was killed, an emotional Ms Dwyer said it was “important for us to be here”. “On behalf of our family we wanted to see where Michael spent the last few days of his life and where he lost his life.”

Bolivian authorities have always claimed Mr Dwyer was killed during a shoot-out with terrorists intent on fomenting separatist violence in the region. However the family have gathered evidence over the five years since the incident they say disproves the government’s version of events and instead points to their son’s summary execution. “At the end of the day, Michael was murdered,” Ms Dwyer said. “There is no other way of putting it.”

The five-day visit to Bolivia is part of the family’s campaign to push for an independent international inquiry into their son’s death, which has intensified in the last 18 months.

Ms Dwyer said she decided to come to Bolivia following a trip in June to Brasília to meet the former public prosecutor in charge of the case before he fled into exile in Brazil.

Marcelo Soza told her his investigations left him convinced that Mr Dwyer was unarmed when killed and that there was no confrontation with police at the hotel or evidence her son was involved in any subversive activity.

This week, Ms Dwyer and her daughter will also travel to the capital La Paz in an effort to meet government ministers to lodge a formal complaint about the killing and make in person their call for Bolivian co-operation for an independent inquiry. They requested official meetings through Irish diplomatic channels, but the dates offered by the Bolivian authorities are after the Dwyers are scheduled to leave Bolivia.

The family is also due to present a formal complaint over the killing to senior officials at Bolivia’s public prosecutors’ office in Sucre.

Responding to news of their imminent arrival, Marco Antonio Rodríguez, the public prosecutor who replaced Mr Soza, dismissed the visit as “inconsequential”, saying “it does not modify the thesis that mercenaries plotted a civil war in Bolivia”.

Despite official hostility to her visit, Ms Dwyer said she was determined to make her trip count and that she was willing to remain longer in the country if it meant she could meet senior officials. “The last 30 hours getting here are only a portion of our 5½-year journey to find the truth,” she said.