When police swooped to arrest Alan Garcia, the former Peruvian president embroiled in a corruption case, he shot himself in the head before he could be detained. Authorities have confirmed that Garcia has now died.Garcia, 69, wanted over a multinational bribery scandal involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, had been treated in hospital for “a bullet wound to his head,” the BBC reports.Local television program Hablemos Claro reported that when police arrived at Garcia’s residence, the ex-president shut himself in his room and attempted to take his own life. Peru’s Health Ministry said Garcia was sent to the hospital at 6:45 a.m. local time.The BBC earlier quoted Health minister Zulema Tomás as saying Garcia’s condition was “very serious and critical.” He was reported to have suffered three heart attacks after turning the gun on himself.“The former president made the decision to shoot himself,” Garcia’s lawyer Erasmo Reyna said outside Casimiro Ulloa hospital, according to CNN.Garcia served as Peru’s leader from 1985 to 1990, and for a second stint between 2006 and 2011.He was a populist firebrand whose erratic first presidency was marked by hyperinflation, rampant corruption and the rise of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. When he returned to power he ran a more conservative government, helping usher in a commodities-led investment boom in which Brazil’s Odebrecht played a major supporting role.Garcia had consistently denied accusations surrounding the construction giant, which include that he took bribes from Odebrecht, during his second term, when an electrical train system was being integrated into the city of Lima. Prosecutors suspect he received more than $100,000 from Odebrecht, disguised as a payment to speak at a conference in Brazil. A judicial order obtained by The Associated Press shows Judge Juan Sanchez ordered authorities to arrest Garcia and search for documents in his home related to money laundering allegations.Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid nearly $800 million throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public works contracts. The firm made a deal with American and Swiss authorities, and was fined a staggering $2.6 billion. Odebrecht’s former CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, is serving 19 years in prison.
Police officers stand guard outside the Casimiro Ulloa Emergency Hospital in Lima where Peruvian ex-president Alan Garcia is undergoing emergency surgery on April 17, 2019 after shooting himself in the head at his home as police were about to arrest him in a sprawling corruption case.
LUKA GONZALES/AFP/Getty Images
Before taking his drastic step on Wednesday Garcia had tried, and failed, to claim asylum at the embassy of Uruguay in Lima in November of last year. He made that move after a Peruvian judge placed a travel ban on him.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.Garcia had returned to his mansion in the leafy Miraflores neighbourhood vowing to co-operate with prosecutors as they continued their investigation.He was far from the first high profile politician to be caught up in the Odebrecht scandal, one of the biggest of its kind that the world has ever seen. The BBC reports that prosecutors have been working on the case across 12 countries in Latin America and beyond.In Peru itself, all but one living former head of state is being investigated for corruption tied to Odebrecht. Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was also detained in recent days for alleged money laundering tied to the probe. Congressional allies said he was taken Tuesday night to a local clinic with high blood pressure.Projects by Odebrecht that are said to have been facilitated by high-level corruption include public infrastructure deals to build motorways, dams and airports across the continent and beyond. The firm led construction for both the 2014 World Cup (hosted by Brazil as a whole) and the 2016 Olympics (hosted by Rio).Odebrecht is also linked to the famous Brazilian corruption scandal known as Lava Jato, or the Car Wash.That probe, started in 2014, focused on Petrobas, Brazil’s state oil outfit, which was allegedly taking bribes from partner construction firms — including Odebrecht — to secure overpriced and therefore highly lucrative contracts. Brazil’s Worker’s Party, that of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff, has been accused of using millions in Petrobas funds on political campaigns. Lula is in prison over a separate bribery scandal involving Petrobas and OAS, an engineering outfit.— with files from the Associated Press