Peru: former president dies after shooting himself before arrest
Alan García, who faced accusations of taking bribes from Brazilian company Odebrecht during presidency, shot himself at his home
Tom Phillips in Mexico City and Dan Collyns in Lima
Wed 17 Apr 2019 16.44 BST First published on Wed 17 Apr 2019 16.23 BST
The former president of Peru Alan García arrives to the National Prosecution office to testify in Odebrecht case in Lima on 16 February 2017. Photograph: Guadalupe Pardo/Reuters
Peru’s former president, Alan García, has died after deliberately shooting himself in the head when police tried to arrest him in connection with a multibillion-dollar Latin American corruption scandal.
“I am saddened by the death of former president Alan García,” tweeted the country’s current president, Martín Vizcarra, confirming the news. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Earlier, García’s lawyer, Erasmo Reyna, told local media his client “took the decision to shoot himself” early on Wednesday after officers arrived at his home in the capital, Lima, to place him under preventive detention.
Peru’s interior minister, Carlos Morán, told journalists García had told police officers he was going to call his lawyer and had “shut himself in his bedroom” before a shot was heard.
The 69-year-old politician – who is facing accusations of taking bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht during his 2006-2011 presidency – was admitted to a nearby hospital soon after, at about 6.45am, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.
Before his death was confirmed Peru’s health minister, Zulema Tomás, told reporters García was in a “very serious” condition and had suffered three heart attacks from which he had been resuscitated. A 27-strong medical team, including neurosurgeons and intensive care specialists, was fighting to save the former president’s life.
“This is a day of national grief,” Alberto Quintanilla, a left-wing congressman, told local television after confirmation of García’s death.
“Peru is in mourning. Our political system is mourning and we … express solidarity with the family … What has happened is very regrettable.”
García is one of four former Peruvian presidents to be sucked into the vast Odebrecht scandal – by which multimillion-dollar bribes were paid to secure construction contracts across the region - alongside Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo.
Last week, a judge ordered that Kuczynski be placed under preventative custody for 10 days as part of a money-laundering investigation. Known as PPK, Kuczynski led Peru from 2016 until he resigned last March ahead of congressional move to impeach him over links to Odebrecht.
García served two terms as president – from 1985 to 1990 and then 2006 and 2011 – and is one of Peru’s most prominent politicians. He rejected claims of wrongdoing, painting himself as the victim of political persecution. Last year he unsuccessfully requested political asylum in Uruguay after seeking shelter in its embassy in Lima.
“I have never sold myself and this has been demonstrated,” García tweeted on Tuesday.
The attempt to arrest García came just days after an investigation revealed his personal secretary, Luis Nava, had allegedly received $4m from Odebrecht’s off-the-books bribery department.
In an interview on Tuesday García said he “emphatically” rejected the accusations against him which he described as “speculations” and “moral assassination”.
- In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org
Alan Garcia: Peru's former president shoots himself as police arrest him amid bribery claims
Lawyer says former leader's condition is 'delicate' and he is being operated on
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The former president of Peru has died after shooting himself in the head as police officers arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation.
Alan Garcia was taken from his house in the capital Lima to the Casimiro Ulloa hospital where doctors provided cardiac resuscitation three times, health minister Zulema Tomas said.
The 69-year-old was under investigation for alleged money laundering and bribery crimes related to the Odebrecht corruption scandal.
Local TV channel America reported Mr Garcia went into a coma after undergoing emergency surgery and broadcast images of his son and supporters arriving at the hospital.
Peru’s Health Ministry said Mr Garcia was sent to Jose Casimiro Ulloa Hospital at 6:45am local time.
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Outside the hospital, Peruvians gathered outside waiting for more information from doctors and officials.
Mr Garcia has led Peru’s once-powerful Apra party for decades, and governed Peru as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning a new five-year term in 2006.
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Mr Garcia was under investigation in connection with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal when it admitted publicly in 2016 that it won lucrative contracts in the region with bribes.
The company admitted in a 2016 plea agreement wiht the US Justice Department that it paid corrupt officials across Latin America nearly $800m (£613m) in exchange for major infrastructure contracts.
The scandal has led to the jailing of numerous politicians across the region, especially in Peru, where former president Pedro Pablo Kucyznski was detained last week as part of a money laundering probe into his ties to the company.
Congressional allies of Kuczynski said he was taken to a local clinic with high blood pressure on Tuesday night.
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Last year, Mr Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.
He repeatedly denied wrongdoing.