Peru’s ex-president dead after shooting himself amid corruption probe

Latest: Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia has died after shooting himself moments after police attempted to detain him amid corruption allegations.

President Martin Vizcarra announced on Twitter that Garcia died after undergoing emergency surgery hours earlier.

Doctors at the Jose Casimiro Ulloa Hospital in the capital city of Lima said they provided cardiac resuscitation three times while trying to save his life.

A supporter of former Peruvian President Alan Garcia grieves after learning of his death (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

“Distraught over the death of ex-president Alan Garcia,” Mr Vizcarra wrote. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

The shocking end for the man who twice ruled Peru but more recently was ensnared in a corruption scandal comes amid national upheaval over endemic corruption involving nearly every former living president.

Mr Garcia repeatedly professed his innocence and said he was the victim of false evidence by political enemies who accused him of taking more than 100,000 US dollars (£76,000) from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 plea agreement with the US Justice Department that it paid nearly 800 million dollars (£613 million) throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

Garcia led the country twice (AP Photo/Karel Navarro, File)

The 69-year-old former head of state’s lawyer accused authorities of neglecting to provide Garcia information on why he was being detained or show their official identifications when they showed up to arrest him.

“The president, upset over this situation, knowing his absolute innocence … had this terrible accident,” lawyer Erasmo Reyna said.

Interior minister Carlos Moran said police found Garcaa on the second floor of his home when they arrived. He asked for a moment to call his lawyer, entering a bedroom of the leafy mansion in Miraflores and closing the door behind him.

Peru’s police officers stand guard at the hospital where Garcia was taken (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Mr Moran said: “Minutes later the sound of gunfire was heard. Police forced their way into the room and found him.”

He was immediately transported to the hospital, arriving at 6.45am local time. A team of doctors, some called from outside hospitals, began operating at 7.10am, according to Peru’s health ministry.

“The situation is very critical,” health minister Zulema Tomas said shortly after the incident. “It’s grave.”

Health minister Zulema Tomas, centre, speaks at a news conference at the Casimiro Ulloa hospital where Garcia was taken (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

The stunning turn of events comes four months after Garcia tried to seek asylum in Uruguay as prosecutors in Peru investigated allegations he illegally took payments from Odebrecht. He remained there for a little more than two weeks before having his request denied.

In rejecting his claim, the South American nation’s embassy said there was no evidence to support Garcia’s contention that he was being targeted politically.

“In Peru, the three branches of government function freely and autonomously, especially in the case of judicial power,” Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said.

Peru has gone further than any other country outside Brazil in prosecuting politicians tied to the Odebrecht probe. All but one living former head of state is being investigated for corruption tied to the scandal.

Earlier (3.38pm): Peru’s ex-president ‘shot himself’ before arrest

Peru’s former president Alan Garcia shot himself before being detained by police, his lawyer has said.

Garcia was arrested amid allegations he received illegal payment from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Lawyer Erasmo Reyna confirmed the shooting on Wednesday to reporters.

Judicial orders obtained by The Associated Press said an order for Garcia’s arrest had been issued.

Peru’s Health Ministry said Garcia was sent to Jose Casimiro Ulloa Hospital at 6.45am local time for a bullet wound to the head.

A spokesman from the hospital said his condition is delicate.

Peru’s police officers stand guard at the hospital where former president Alan Garcia was taken (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Garcia was under investigation for bribes allegedly paid during the construction of Lima’s metro during his 2006-2011 government.

He had denied ever receiving money from Odebrecht, which is at the centre of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal after admitting in a 2016 plea agreement with the US Justice Department that it paid corrupt officials across Latin America nearly 800 million US dollars (£613 million) 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 just last week as part of a money laundering probe into his ties to the company.

Former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is also in hospital (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Congressional allies of Kuczynski said he was also taken on Tuesday night to a local clinic with high blood pressure.

A Peruvian judge last week ordered Kuczynski’s detention for 10 days as he investigates some 782,000 dollars (£600,000) in previously undisclosed payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht more than a decade ago. A hearing is scheduled to take place to decide whether to increase his detention to three years.

Garcia, 69, was a populist firebrand whose erratic first presidency in the 1980s was marked by hyperinflation, rampant corruption and the rise of the Shining Path guerrilla movement.

When he returned to power two decades later he ran a more conservative government, helping usher in a commodities-led investment boom in which Odebrecht played a major supporting role.

- Press Association

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