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Page last updated at 03:54 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 04:54 UK

Bolivia leader backs plot probe

Bolivian President Evo Morales in Port of Spain, Trinidad
Morales said he would be happy for a "transparent" investigation to occur

Bolivian President Evo Morales has told the BBC he would be happy for there to be an international investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate him.

Three alleged mercenaries were killed in a police operation last week in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

They included an Irish citizen, Michael Dwyer, and a man with joint Bolivian, Hungarian and Croatian nationality.

Hungarian and Irish diplomats are in Bolivia trying to get more information about the deaths of their nationals.

Both countries have denied any involvement in any conspiracy to destabilise Bolivia.

Possible suspicions

Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin said earlier that Mr Dwyer, 24, had no criminal record or army background.

Michael Dwyer, from Tipperary, was killed in a police raid
Michael Dwyer was killed in a police raid at a Santa Cruz hotel

He said the Irish government had a legitimate right to seek out facts about how one of its citizens came to be killed.

Speaking in New York, Mr Morales invited Mr Martin or other international figures to travel to Bolivia to help the investigation, as long as they were "transparent".

"I invite the foreign secretary, or whomever else, to come to Bolivia and verify how they did it, how they launched bombs, how armed they were," he said.

But while he said he was not directly linking the governments of Ireland, Hungary and Croatia to the events, Mr Morales suggested he would be suspicious if investigators tried to defend the three dead men.

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

"What I think I should say to these Hungarian and Irish authorities if they are claiming for their citizens... I could think that they sent them to plot against my Government and my country," he told the BBC.

The three men were killed in a raid on their hotel last week by Bolivian police.

President Morales has said that they had belonged to a gang of foreign mercenaries who were helping opposition politicians in the province of Santa Cruz.

Weapons seized

Violent demonstrations have taken place there in the past two years in favour of autonomy and against the central government of Mr Morales.

Earlier, a video was broadcast in Hungary of an interview with Eduardo Rozsa-Flores, who held Hungarian, Bolivian and Croatian nationality and was alleged to have been the group's leader.

Map

In the video, Mr Rozsa-Flores said he had been called on to set up a militia to protect Santa Cruz, where he was born.

He said he was ready to proclaim independence and create a new country.

Mr Rozsa-Flores fought in the Croatian army for the cause of separatism during the war in former Yugoslavia.

He was shot dead along with Mr Dwyer and a third man, while two other foreign nationals were arrested and weapons and ammunition seized.

Irish diplomat Derek Lambe, normally based in Argentina, had a short meeting with Bolivian ministers after identifying the corpse of Mr Dwyer, who was 24, and had been working as a security guard in Bolivia.



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