The Irishman and the 'plot' to kill the Bolivian President

Michael Dwyer was found dead in a Santa Cruz hotel room, wearing nothing but his underwear. How did he end up there?

His bloody, bullet-riddled body, naked except for his underwear, was found on the floor of a hotel room in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Police say Michael Dwyer, a 24-year-old Irishman, was a ruthless assassin hatching a plot to murder the Bolivian President, Evo Morales. His family say the allegations are "absolutely ridiculous" and the Irish government is demanding an investigation into his death alongside a Balkan war veteran and a Hungarian nationalist.

Mr Dwyer's mother, Caroline, describes her son as "fun-loving, always good-natured, generous, always thinking of us". She is clearly baffled by the alleged transformation of her son from an engineering student from Tipperary into a mercenary scheming to kill a South American leader. Her husband, Martin, shares her confusion, saying: "He just wouldn't be capable... you'd need to be trained for that type of thing, but he wouldn't have those sort of skills."

Mr Dwyer's death in a special forces raid in the early hours of 16 April was announced on Bolivian television, alongside images of the bloody corpses strewn about the fourth-floor room. Officials claimed the Irishman was part of a gang formed by wealthy right-wing figures of European descent who oppose President Morales's attempts to redistribute Bolivia's wealth and empower its indigenous majority.

The President's critics in Santa Cruz accuse him of staging a bloody "show" to intimidate and justify repression against them ahead of elections in December.

Police say the would-be assassins were captained by Eduardo Rozsa Flores, who led an extraordinary life that began and ended in Santa Cruz, a hotbed of Morales opposition. Mr Flores, who was born in the city in 1960 to Hungarian and Spanish parents, grew up in Hungary, where he was a communist youth leader and acted as a translator for Carlos the Jackal. After covering the start of the Yugoslav wars as a journalist, Mr Flores formed an international volunteers' brigade fighting for Croatian independence. When the war ended in 1995, he turned to writing poetry and political essays, played himself in a film based on his life, swapped Catholicism for Islam and supported causes from Hungarian nationalism to autonomy for Santa Cruz.

In an interview, recorded to be broadcast in the event of his death, Mr Flores said unnamed figures had asked him to return to his homeland to organise the defence of Santa Cruz in the event of a violent government crackdown on the region. But he insisted he had no intention of attacking the Bolivian capital, La Paz, or of toppling the President. He planned to fly to Brazil last October, before being smuggled into Bolivia, where he would start forming his militia. How a 24-year-old from Tipperary joined that fledgling militia is still a mystery to his parents, who refute Bolivia's depiction of their son as a deadly assassin. A former engineering student who had worked as a bouncer and security guard, Mr Dwyer described his existence as "travelin, workin, doin a bit a dis and a bit a dat". On a social networking site, he listed his hobbies as martial arts and pistol shooting, and posted photographs of himself clad in camouflage.

People who knew Mr Dwyer confirmed that he went to Bolivia last November for a bodyguard training course with two Hungarians. When the course failed to take place, they returned to Ireland but Mr Dwyer stayed on, and told his father he was working as a bodyguard for "some wealthy guy he met out there".

Attempts to understand how Mr Dwyer met the men he died with have thrown light on a shadowy Hungarian nationalist group called the Szekler Legion, which wants autonomy for the large Hungarian minority in Romania's Transylvania region. Mr Flores posted anti-Morales tirades on a website linked to the legion and is thought to have trained with them. The third man killed in Santa Cruz, Arpad Magyarosi, also had links to the group. At least one member of the legion is thought to have worked for the same security firm as Mr Dwyer in Ireland.

Dublin is pushing for an international inquiry and Hungarian officials have said "the pieces of the mosaic don't fit". Meanwhile, the Dwyers are preparing their son's funeral. "We would like to have some answers, whatever they can come up with," his father said. "Hopefully something will come out of it then, to clear his name."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Pre-Press / Mac Operator / Artworker - Digital & Litho Print

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: With year on year growth and a reputation for ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Live Virtual Training / Events

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003