Peru’s ex-president Garcia dies after shooting himself before arrest

Former President of Peru Alan Garcia, above, died after he shot himself on Wednesday as police arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him in a bribery case.

Health Minister Zulema Tomas said Garcia, 69, suffered massive brain haemorrhage and cardio-respiratory arrest after undergoing surgery at Casimiro Ulloa Hospital.

Garcia’s relatives were near him at the time of death.

When police arrived at his home with a 10-day detention order, Garcia went upstairs saying he wanted to talk to his lawyer Erasmo Reyna. A shot was then heard and police found him sitting with a bullet wound in his head, said Interior Minister Carlos Moran.

Reyna said a prosecutor who accompanied police did not duly identify himself adding that he would lodge a complaint against members of the judiciary.

The judiciary also ordered 10-day detention of former secretary-general of the presidency Luis Nava, former vice-president of PetroPeru Miguel Atala, and their respective children Jose Antonio Nava and Samir Atala.

The orders came after the judiciary approved the request of José Domingo Pérez, prosecutor of the Lava Jato (Car Wash case) special team, who is investigating Garcia over a corruption case linked to Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Garcia had consistently denied any wrongdoing and maintained that he was a victim of political persecution.

But investigators said Odebrecht had admitted to paying officials some $30 million in bribes for clearing various infrastructure projects in Peru since 2004.

Garcia served as Peru’s president from 1985 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2011.

Before Peru barred him from leaving the country, Garcia unsuccessfully attempted to seek asylum in Uruguay in November last year.

A large crowd of Garcia supporters, some of them in tears, gathered outside Casimiro Ulloa Hospital.

President Martin Vizcarra tweeted he is distraught by the death of Garcia.

Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa tweeted Garcia was unfairly pursued.

It was not suicide but assassination. Garcia’s sacrifice should make people realise that political fighting has limits, Correa wrote.

Four former Peruvian presidents — Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala, Alejandro Toledo and Garcia — had been involved in corruption scandals.

Another, Alberto Fujimori, is serving jail term for corruption and rights abuses.

Fujimori’s daughter and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori has also been detained over Odebrecht case.

Keiko said she felt sad over the tragic departure of Garcia.

Some 94% of Peruvians believe the level of corruption is high or very high in their country, according to an opinion poll held late last year.