Peru’s Ex-President Alan García Shoots Himself Before Arrest

April 17, 2019 Updated: April 17, 2019

LIMA, Peru—A lawyer for former Peruvian President Alan García said on Wednesday, April 17, the leader shot himself before being detained by police amid allegations he received illegal payment from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Lawyer Erasmo Reyna confirmed the shooting to local television outlet N.

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

Peru’s Health Ministry said García was sent to José Casimiro Ulloa Hospital at 6:45 a.m. local for a bullet wound to the head.

“At this moment, the patient has been in an operating room at the hospital since 7:10 a.m.,” the ministry said.

police in riot gear hospital
Police arrives outside a hospital where Peru’s former President Alan Garcia was taken after he shot himself, in Lima, Peru, on April 17, 2019. (Guadalupe Pardo/Reuters)

Local TV channel America reported Garcia was in a coma and broadcast images of Garcia’s son, supporters and lawmakers entering the hospital, where police in riot gear stood by.

“Let’s pray to God to give him strength,” Reyna, Garcia’s lawyer, told journalists at the hospital.

“Rampant Corruption”

García, 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.

Peru President Alan Garcia
Peru’s outgoing President Alan Garcia, left, ride the soon to be inaugurated Line 1 electrical train system in Lima, Peru, on July 11, 2011. (Martin Mejia/File via AP)

Garcia, a skilled orator who has led Peru‘s once-powerful Apra party for decades, governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

Global Corruption Scandal

Odebrecht is accused of doling out nearly $800 million in bribes between 2001 and 2016 to get contracts from governments to build roads, bridges, dams and highways.

Authorities say Odebrecht officials shipped cash across the globe—from one shell bank account to the next—en route to politicians’ pockets in a dozen countries, including Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, and Mozambique. Some of the bribes filtered through the United States.

The corruption scandal—one of the biggest in modern history—implicated several former Latin American presidents.

Last year, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned one day before the congress voted on his impeachment. He continued to deny any wrongdoing in the Odebrecht scandal.

Kucyznski was detained just last week as part of a money-laundering probe into his ties to the company.

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

Ecuador suspended Vice President Jorge Glas, who was later sentenced to six years in prison in December 2017 for receiving $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht.

Riot gear police peru 1
Peru’s police officers stand guard at the emergency hospital Casimiro Ulloa where former Peruvian President Alan Garcia was taken after he shot himself in his neck, in Lima, Peru, on April 17, 2019. (Martin Mejia/AP)

And former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering, including allegedly allowing Odebrecht to pay for his family’s vacation home.

A Peruvian judge last week ordered Kuczynski’s detention for 10 days as he investigates some $782,000 in previously undisclosed payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht more than a decade ago.

A hearing is scheduled to take place Wednesday to decide whether to increase his detention to three years.

Reuters and CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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