Fri, Apr 24, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Dublin urges Bolivia to explain why cops shot dead Irish man

REUTERS , DUBLIN

The Irish government on Wednesday urged Bolivia to explain why police shot dead an Irish man and questioned its accusation that he was involved in a suspected plot to kill Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Michael Dwyer was one of three people killed last week by Bolivian police who the leftist government said belonged to a gang of “famous mercenaries” planning to assassinate Morales.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said Dwyer had no criminal record or army background in Ireland.

“The Irish Government has a legitimate right to seek the facts of how one of its citizens came to be killed by the security forces of another state,” Martin said in a statement.

Bolivian officials have named the group’s leader as Eduardo Rozsa, a Bolivian who also held Hungarian and Croatian passports.

Hungary has also expressed doubts over Bolivia’s claims that Rozsa was involved in an assassination plot.

“We did not get enough information from the Bolivian authorities. I have doubts and I don’t see evidence that these people, who were killed by a police squad or detained, these people really planned the assassination of the president,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Balazs told reporters on Tuesday.

A Romanian citizen was also killed in the incident.

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia said on Wednesday that Bolivia had videotapes of statements made by Rosza to Hungarian media before he died that proved he and his group had violent, illegal intentions and aimed to be part of a separatist movement in the South American country.

Ireland’s Martin said: “Prima facie evidence is sufficient to raise questions in relation to the description of events released by the Bolivian authorities.”

He also said Dwyer had been identified and “gruesome” footage of his dead body displayed in international media before contact had been made with Irish diplomats.

“I want to make it clear that Ireland had no involvement in, or has no sympathy for, any action designed to destabilize Bolivia or threaten the security of its democratically elected president,” Martin said.

Leaders of Bolivia’s rightist opposition have condemned the shootings, which took place in the eastern city of Santa Cruzp.

Morales, who accused rivals in Santa Cruz of organizing violent protests last year, has linked the suspected plot to right-wing opponents he says are seeking to destabilize his government. The opposition denied links to the alleged plot.

Dwyer’s parents said their son, who had told them he worked as a bodyguard in Bolivia, had no training or ability to carry out a plot.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous, there is no way Michael was ever involved in anything like that,” his mother Caroline Dwyer said.

Irish media said photographs had shown that Dwyer was dressed in his underwear in his hotel room at the time of his death.

Police arrested two others in the Santa Cruz raid, whom local media identified as a Bolivian-Croatian and a Hungarian. Authorities said police confiscated sniper rifles, high-caliber guns and other explosives from a nearby building.

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