Bolivians were investigating man before his death

THE young Tipperary man shot dead by police in a Bolivian hotel was being investigated by the authorities there prior to his death, the country’s ambassador has told an inquest into his death.

Michael Dwyer, aged 24, of Ballinderry, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, was shot dead along with Eduardo Rozsa Flores and a third man, Arpad Magyaroson, on the fourth floor of Hotel Las Americas in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz on April 16, 2008.

Bolivian ambassador to Britain and Ireland, Beatriz Souviron, told the inquest, which was heard at Dublin County Coroner’s Court yesterday, that Mr Dwyer was being investigated by the Bolivian government prior to his death as part of a group which was trying to “cause some problems in Bolivia. The life of my president was threatened and other leaders”, she said.

Ms Souviron revealed that their airline tickets had been paid for by Bolivian businessman Alejandro Melgar, whom she said has been arrested for being part of a terrorist movement to separate Santa Cruz from the country.

Ms Souviron, who emphasised that the investigation in Bolivia was ongoing, said that police came to arrest the group on April 16 and that they resisted arrest.

“There was a crossfire between the room and the corridor when the police came to arrest them.”

The ambassador said guns were found in the rooms of the three men, including one nine millimetre gun and one 22mm gun in the room of Michael Dwyer.

She said residue of gunshot was also found on Mr Dwyer’s hands.

A postmortem by the State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy found the 24-year-old died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, which injured his heart and left lung.

A postmortem in Bolivia found there were six bullet holes in Mr Dwyer’s body.

Ms Cassidy said this was a misinterpretation.

During the autopsy in Bolivia, Mr Dwyer’s body was opened, but his organs were not removed.

They were removed at the postmortem in Ireland.

“(At) the initial postmortem examination, marks on the outside (of the body) have been examined and assumptions have been made because of the background,” she said.

“It’s a misinterpretation. They are misinterpreting the external wounds.”

The state pathologist said that gunshot residues are very easy to transfer to other surfaces and that you couldn’t conclude Mr Dwyer had a gun unless you were sure nobody who had handled a gun had touched him.

In relation to whether Mr Dwyer was sleeping when he was shot, Ms Cassidy said: “All I can say is he had to be at a lower level (than the person who shot him).”

A jury of five women and three men returned an open verdict under the direction of coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty.

“This happened in another country. There’s a limit to what we know about what actually happened,” he said.

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