Dwyer family urges more pressure on Bolivia over killing

Call on fifth anniversary of Michael Dwyer’s death comes as trial of two companions close to collapse

Michael Dwyer, shot dead five years ago by Bolivian security forces. His family has called for “renewed external pressure” on Bolivia to compel it to investigate the circumstances surrounding his killing. Photograph: PA

Michael Dwyer, shot dead five years ago by Bolivian security forces. His family has called for “renewed external pressure” on Bolivia to compel it to investigate the circumstances surrounding his killing. Photograph: PA

 


On the fifth anniversary of his death, the family of Michael Dwyer has called for “renewed external pressure” on Bolivia to compel it to investigate the circumstances of his killing at the hands of the south American country’s security forces.

The call comes as the trial of two of Mr Dwyer’s companions detained in Bolivia is close to collapse, after the public prosecutor in charge of the case fled to Brazil following the exposure of his collusion with senior government figures using the events surrounding Mr Dwyer’s death to frame the country’s political opposition.

Mr Dwyer’s family has fought a relentless campaign for an independent international investigation into his killing, along with two other men, after a police raid on the hotel where they were staying in the city of Santa Cruz in the early hours of April 16th, 2009.


Ask questions
“Ultimately, someone from the outside needs to ask the questions that need to be answered. No person should be brutally killed by a state police force without an explanation or an investigation,” says Mr Dwyer’s mother Caroline.

She warns the passage of time risks making it harder to get at the truth of what happened: “People are moving on. Some of those central to the case have already died.”

In 2011 the family submitted a report to the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions containing evidence that it says shows their son was summarily executed.

Bolivian authorities claim he died in a shootout and was part of a group of mercenaries fomenting secessionist violence in the anti-government stronghold of Santa Cruz.

But in the five years since the hotel raid, several of the Bolivian government’s claims have been contradicted by witnesses, while video, audio and photographic evidence has emerged that implicates authorities in evidence-tampering, bribing of witnesses and blackmail of defendants.

The EU and UN say they are waiting for the trial of the two men arrested during the raid – Hungarian Elod Tóásó and Mario Tadic, who holds Bolivian and Croatian citizenship – along with 37 others on terrorism offences to conclude before taking any action, with Bolivia indicating an investigation might take place afterwards.

But the integrity of the trial has been undermined by a series of scandals, culminating in last month’s admission by the former prosecutor after he fled to Brazil that he worked with the government to use the case to frame the country’s opposition.

Despite the EU’s stance of letting Bolivia’s judicial process run its course, Hungary’s government has demanded that Bolivia immediately release Mr Tóásó, whom it classifies as “arbitrarily detained” in Bolivia.


Lost trust
Renewing its call for international action on the case ,the Dwyer family says it has lost “complete trust and belief” that the Bolivian authorities will ever properly investigate the events of five years ago and called on the EU to adopt a tougher stance in dealings with La Paz.

“Bolivia is a significant recipient of EU development assistance,” argues Mrs Dwyer.

“We believe that this should act as important leverage by both the Irish government and the EU to secure answers.”