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Bolivian forces ‘found’ handgun in Dwyer’s room *(Shell Corrib security guard)

May 10, 2009

Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer, the Tipperary man killed by Bolivian special forces last month, had a handgun in his hotel room, security sources in the South American country have claimed. They say guns were found in four of five rooms raided by armed police who then shot dead three men, including Dwyer.

The police also arrested Elod Toaso and Mario Tadic, who were suspected of being part of a gang plotting to assassinate Evo Morales, the Bolivian president.

The manager of the Las Americas hotel in Santa Cruz previously said he did not see a gun in Dwyer’s room. The security sources have declined to say if any of the guns were fired during their ambush.

“The group’s initial goal was to train [others to use firearms],” said one investigator. “Most of these [firearms] were 9mms. Tadic did not have arms, but all the others had arms inside their rooms.”

This is the first time police have made this accusation. Previously they said they had recovered weapons from the hotel and a larger stash, including rifles, from a nearby building used for trade fairs.

The security source said a whistleblower had contacted police to warn them about the “terrorist group”. Led by Eduardo Rozsa Flores, a veteran Bolivian-Hungarian fighter from the Balkans conflict, the group is accused of using press cards as cover for their activities.

“They used this to gain access to numerous people and institutions that allowed them to gather the kind of information that the terrorist group needed,” said the security source. He accused some members of having “links with fascist groups”.

Investigators are still trying to establish why the group, which mainly consisted of eastern Europeans, recruited Dwyer. The investigator said: “We believe it was because he liked, and was skilful with, firearms, and that someone suggested to Rozsa that Dwyer should be part of the group.”

Police are working on the theory that members of Flores’s group joined for either money or “fascist” ideology. “Obviously these people came here to enjoy a lifestyle; five-star hotels. They lived comfortably and obviously that was one of the reasons [they joined the group],” said the security source.

Investigators now believe 11 foreign members of the group were in the Santa Cruz region. Of the other six still at large, most are said to be Hungarian and one is a Slav. One is believed to be Tibor Revesz, a Hungarian who worked with Dwyer for Integrated Risk Management Services (IRMS), an Irish firm that provides security for Shell’s Corrib gasline project.

Dwyer was licensed as a door supervisor and Revesz as a security guard by the Private Security Authority in Ireland in 2008. IRMS did not return calls to answer questions about Revesz’s role in the company.

Revesz is also a member of the Szekler Legion, a right-wing group that wants autonomy for a Hungarian minority living in Romania.

On his websites, Revesz was also selling clothing bearing insignias commemorating various IRMS security operations — including the protection of the Solitaire pipe-laying vessel from anti-Shell protesters.

Marcelo Soza, the public prosecutor has accused Branko Marinkovic, a wealthy landowner of Croatian extraction, of financing the Flores group. “We have evidence against these people,” he said. “There are statements, not only from one witness, \ Villa, but there is also a statement from Alcides Mendoza who says that these people met [with suspected terrorists].”

Both witnesses were allegedly involved with Flores’s group.

Marinkovic, a political enemy of Morales, has denied the allegation and has claimed he is being set up. He has called for an international investigation, and has cast doubt on the ability of the Bolivian prosecutor to carry out an impartial investigation.

Bolivian police expect to gather more information about the Flores group when the courts give them permission to examine five laptops and various cameras and flash-drives that were seized in the hotel raid.

TIMES ARTICLE

*Headline insert in brackets added by John Donovan

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