Alan Garcia death: Peru's former president dies after shooting himself as police arrest him

Populist firebrand had repeatedly denied wrongdoing: 'Others might sell out, not me'

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 17 April 2019 17:44
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Alan Garcia: Attorney gives statement after former Peruvian President shoots himself during bribery arrest

Peru’s former president has died after shooting himself in the head as police officers arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation, his family have said.

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.

Garcia, who had repeatedly denied wrongdoing, was 69.

President Martin Vizcarra tweeted to say he was “consternated” by Garcia’s death, and sent his condolences to his family members.

Garcia was a populist firebrand who twice ruled Peru.

The former president was under investigation related to Latin America’s largest corruption probe.

Prosecutors said they believed he received more than $100,000 (£76,000) from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company, disguised as a payment to speak at a conference in Brazil.

The company admitted publicly in 2016 it won lucrative contracts in the region with bribes.

Garcia professed his innocence and said he was being targeted politically.

“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

Interior minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference before Garcia died the former president had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.

“He entered his room and closed the door behind him,” Mr Moran said. “Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr Garcia sitting with a wound in his head.”

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Last year, 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.

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case.

Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017-2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges last week.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

All have denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

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