Irish diplomats are to meet senior Bolivian government officials today for high-level talks on the killing of Michael Dwyer, it emerged today.
Authorities in Santa Cruz have released the 24-year-old’s body for repatriation but his remains are not expected home for several days due to travel difficulties.
Bolivian police claim the Tipperary native was one of three men killed in a hotel shoot-out with them on Thursday over an alleged plot to assassinate President Evo Morales.
But junior minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs Dick Roche said there was nothing to suggest the GMIT graduate was involved in criminality.
“My understanding is that Mr Dwyer had absolutely no form of record from any garda source that would have suggested that he had any mis-behaviour, or that he had any record,” Mr Roche said.
Derek Lambe, a second secretary from the Irish embassy in Argentina, and Ireland’s honorary counsel in Bolivia Peter O’Toole will meet with senior officials from the Bolivian Justice Ministry in the capital La Paz tomorrow.
The talks are expected to focus on the circumstances surrounding the killing in the city of Santa Cruz and what progress the Bolivian authorities have made in their own investigation into the deaths.
It is understood the men where shot by a special police unit and not local officers.
Following talks between Mr Lambe and top police chiefs and local government officials, Mr Dwyer’s body was released from the morgue to a local funeral directors today.
It is understood the Dwyer family are not travelling to Bolivia so Irish officials are working to have the body repatriated to Ireland by the middle of the week.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Normally these things take a while no matter what the circumstances are surrounding a death.
“It is quite difficult to move a body between countries.”
Dermot Ryan, spokesman for the Dwyer family, said they are still not clear on the events surrounding the violent death and are focusing on trying to get the body home.
“There’s just so many different stories on it now,” Mr Ryan said.
“I think that so much of it is not going to come out for a long time and probably some of it is never going to come out. They’re (the family) just trying not to focus on any speculation.”
Mr Dwyer, from Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, graduated last year from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology with a degree in construction management.
It is understood he had been working with a local Galway security firm and was sent to Bolivia by the company to undergo training in November.
However, it is believed he was recruited to work in security for one of the other men killed – a Bolivian with Croatian citizenship who reportedly fought in the Balkan Wars with the Croatian militia.
Bolivian police identified the third man shot dead as a Hungarian national and said they had also seized a cache of weapons.
They claim Mr Dwyer’s passport was found among his personal items.
In a statement yesterday the family said they were shocked and devastated by the death and appealed for privacy.
Michael’s father, Martin is an electrician and his mother Caroline a pharmaceutical engineer.
He had two sisters – Aisling, 25, and Ciara, 21 – and a younger brother, Emmett, 14.
“The family of Michael Dwyer are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of a beloved son and brother,” the statement said.
“They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of their wider family, friends and their local community.
“The Dwyer family ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”
Messages of sympathy were posted on Michael’s Bebo website when news of his death filtered through to Ireland, which displayed photographs of him in army fatigues.
His family said he was a paintballing enthusiast.
President Morales has linked the alleged assassination plot to the political opposition, whom he has accused of various attempts to overthrow him.
But the opposition dismissed the latest claims as attempts to discredit them.