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Ex-Peruvian president shoots himself before arrest

Published: April 18, 2019 11:13:16 | Updated: April 21, 2019 19:01:55


FILE PHOTO: Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia talks to the media as he arrives at the National Prosecution office in Lima, Peru March 27, 2018 - Reuters

Former Peruvian President Alan García has died after shooting himself as police arrived at his home to arrest him over bribery allegations.

Mr García was rushed to hospital in the capital, Lima. His death was confirmed by current President Martín Vizcarra.

A crowd of supporters gathered outside the hospital building, and were held back by a line of police officers.

Mr García was accused of taking bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht - claims he denied.

Mr García served as president from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011, reports the BBC.

What happened at his home?

Officers had been sent to arrest him at his home in the affluent Miraflores neighbourhood in connection with the allegations.

Interior Minister Carlos Morán told reporters that when police arrived, Mr García asked to make a phone call and went into a room and closed the door.

Minutes later, a shot rang out, Mr Morán said. Police forced the door open and found Mr García sitting on a chair with a bullet wound to his head.

Ricardo Pinedo, Mr García's secretary, said the former president had four or five weapons in his home, gifts he had received from the military, and that he had used one of these to shoot himself.

He underwent emergency surgery in the Casimiro Ulloa hospital in Lima.

Health Minister Zulema Tomás said Mr García had to be resuscitated three times after suffering cardiac arrests before finally succumbing to his injuries.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Vizcarra said he was "shocked" by the former president's death and sent his condolences to his family.

Omar Quesada, the general secretary of Mr García's American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) party, told reporters: "Alan García has died, long live APRA."

What was Mr García accused of?

Investigators say he took bribes from Odebrecht during his second term in office, linked to a metro line building project in the capital.

Odebrecht has admitted paying almost $30m (£23m) in bribes in Peru since 2004.

But Mr García maintained he was the victim of political persecution, writing in a tweet on Tuesday that there was "no clue or evidence" against him.

In November last year he unsuccessfully applied for political asylum in Uruguay.

What is the Odebrecht scandal?

Odebrecht is a Brazilian construction giant behind major infrastructure projects around the world, including venues for the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup in its home country.

But under the glare of anti-corruption investigators the company admitted paying bribes in more than half of the countries in Latin America, as well as in Angola and Mozambique in Africa.

Investigators say Odebrecht bribed officials or electoral candidates in exchange for lucrative building contracts.

How is Peru affected?

Four of Peru's most recent presidents are all being investigated for alleged corruption, with a fifth - Alberto Fujimori - serving a prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

Ex-leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was taken to hospital with high blood pressure on Wednesday just days after his own arrest in connection with Odebrecht charges. Reports said he was in intensive care.

The current leader of the opposition, Keiko Fujimori, is also in pre-trial detention on charges of taking $1.2m (£940,000) in bribes from Odebrecht.

In October, an opinion poll by Datum showed 94 per cent of Peruvians believed the level of corruption in their country was either high or very high.

The scandal embroiling Peru's presidents

  • Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in office 2016-2018, resigned over a vote-buying scandal and detained last week
  • Ollanta Humala, in office 2011-2016, accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht to bankroll his election campaign, in pre-trial detention in Peru
  • Alan García, in office 2006-2011, suspected of taking kickbacks from Odebrecht, sought asylum in Uruguay's Lima embassy but had his request denied
  • Alejandro Toledo, in office 2001-2006, accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from Odebrecht, currently a fugitive in the US

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