Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 07:21 UK

Irish to probe Bolivia shooting

Michael Dwyer, from Tipperary, was killed in a police raid
Michael Dwyer, from Tipperary, was killed in a police raid

An Irishman killed by Bolivian police who "foiled a plot to kill" president Evo Morales had no criminal record, an Irish government minister has said.

Michael Martin Dwyer, 24, from Tipperary, was one of three men killed in what the Bolivian government claimed was "a gun battle" in Santa Cruz.

An Irish diplomat is to meet senior Bolivian government officials later.

There was nothing in Mr Dwyer's background to suggest any misbehaviour, an Irish minister said.

Minister for State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Dick Roche said Mr Dwyer's death was "a tragedy for his family".

Mr Roche told Irish state broadcaster RTE that 24-year-olds "do trot around the world".

He added that wearing "military garb doesn't necessarily mean they have any military involvement".

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said Mr Dwyer's body has been released by Bolivian authorities for repatriation.

In a statement, his family said they were devastated by the death of the 24-year-old from Ballinderry, County Tipperary.

They said they were grateful for the support, love and prayers of their wider family, friends and their local community.

The Republic of Ireland has no embassy in Bolivia and an official from the Irish embassy in Argentina has travelled to La Paz.

Evo Morales
Police say Bolivian president Evo Morales was the target of the plot

Graphic images of Mr Dwyer were published in the Bolivian press.

Confusion surrounds the precise nature of events surrounding the shooting, which led to the death of the graduate of construction management from Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology.

A page on a social networking site which belonged to Mr Dwyer has been taken down.

On another social networking site he is listed as a friend of one of the other dead men, Eduardo Rozsa Flores.

Tributes have been left on the site by friends and family.

On one of the sites he listed among his interests, pistol shooting and airsoft, a plastic-pellet firing combat game. He is pictured wearing combat fatigues.

Three men, including Mr Dwyer, died and two others were arrested in the eastern city of Santa Cruz after police fought a gun battle with what Bolivian authorities described as a "mercenary gang".

Police said two of the five fought for Croatian independence after the break-up of former Yugoslavia. The three others are said to be Irish, Romanian and Hungarian.

The gun battle took place in Santa Cruz, an eastern Bolivian city and hub of anti-Morales sentiment.



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