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Irishman held over 'Bolivian Prez Plot'

Gerard Couzens - Irish Daily Mirror

Suspect awaiting extradition

POLICE in Brazil have arrested an Irishman suspected of being linked to an alleged terror plot against Bolivia's President Evo Morales.

Security services detained him on an international arrest warrant issued by Bolivian authorities as he boarded a flight to Portugal.

Yesterday the man was being held in jail in Brazil awaiting extradition to Bolivia.

He was named locally as Muhammed Jasser and described as an Irish passport holder.

Reports from Bolivia last night suggested authorities believe he was Iraqi-born and may hold dual Irish-Iraqi nationality.

One report claimed he was using more than one identity when he was arrested after a surveillance operation in the Brazilian capital Brasilia.

South American officials they now want to question him about suspected links to a gang accused of plotting to kill Morales.

Three men, alleged by authorities to have been members of the gang, including Irishman Michael Dwyer, were killed during a police raid on their hotel in the western Bolivian city of Santa Cruz in April.

Investigators in Bolivia claim they now have information suggesting the arrested man may have been tasked with arming mercenaries.

Cesar Navarro, who was part of a cross-party commission of Bolivian MPs investigating the alleged terror plot against Evo Morales, told respected national newspaper La Prensa: "This Irishman may be an important link to the terrorist cell dismantled in Santa Cruz in April.

"The evidence he gives the Brazilian authorities and his extradition to Bolivia will permit the expansion of important information pointing to him being the man tasked with providing the gang with heavy weapons."

Dwyer, 24, from Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, was one of three men shot dead by police in Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia on April 16.

Opposition MPs in Bolivia have claimed the authorities assassinated them as part of a government-led dirty tricks campaign to silence critics.

A Dublin coroner ruled earlier this year Michael died from a single gunshot wound to the heart, contradicting earlier postmortem findings in Bolivia.