Dwyer inquest returns open verdict

 

The jury at an inquest into the shooting dead of Irishman Michael Dwyer by Bolivian police in an anti-terrorist operation in April has returned an open verdict.

The hearing, before Dublin County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty, heard that a postmortem carried out in Bolivia on the 25-year-old’s remains wrongly concluded he had been shot six times.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy told the court that her post mortem, carried out when the remains were flown home, found Mr Dwyer had been shot just once. She said he died from a single gunshot through the heart.

She said the bullet used, known as a “dumdum” bullet, was designed to cause massive internal damage to the target, literally “stopping them dead in their tracks”. It was rarely used.

Mr Dwyer’s ribs were broken and his lungs were damaged by the single round, which passed through his body.

Prof Cassidy said the post-mortem carried out in Bolivia was incomplete and consisted mainly of an external examination. Those who carried it out had misinterpreted cuts for bullet exit and entry wounds, concluding Mr Dwyer had been shot six times.

Dr Cassidy said the fatal shot had been fired by somebody standing over Mr Dwyer, most likely as he was sitting up in bed.

The Bolivian ambassador to the UK and Ireland, Beatrice Suveron, said her government would cooperate with an independent international inquiry into Mr Dwyer’s shooting dead.

She said 51 shots were fired during the “shoot out” in which Mr Dwyer and two other men were killed in a Santa Cruz hotel on April 16th last. She also said two guns had been found in Mr Dwyer’s hotel room.

The authorities in Bolivia have alleged Mr Dwyer and men he met in Bolivia were plotting terrorist acts that included plans to kill the president Evo Morales. Mr Dwyer’s family and friends have dismissed the claims, saying the 25-year-old was not remotely interested in politics.

Mr Dwyer had told his parents in Ballinderry, Co Tipperary he was going to Bolivia to do a bodyguard course. When the course did not materialise the men Mr Dwyer had travelled to Bolivia with flew back to Ireland.

Mr Dwyer stayed on in Bolivia with Eduardo Rozsa Flores. He told his parents in Ireland he was working as a bodyguard for Mr Flores. On Thursday April 16th, an elite police unit stormed the men’s hotel. Mr Dwyer, Mr Flores and another man were shot dead. Two other members of the group were arrested.

In the weeks after the killings, police in Bolivia released photographs of Mr Dwyer and the others posing while handling firearms.