Alan Garcia, the former president of Peru, shot himself in the head at his Lima home on Wednesday when police arrived to arrest him in connection with an ongoing bribery investigation.
He is currently undergoing emergency surgery at Lima’s Jose Casimiro Ulloa Hospital. Doctors say his condition is “delicate.”
Garcia, who served as president between 1985 and 1990 and then again from 2006 to 2011, was wanted in connection to the sprawling Lavo Jota (Car Wash) corruption investigation and his ties to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Hundreds of millions in bribes
The former president is suspected of having taken bribes from Odebrecht in return for granting them a contract to build a new subway system in Lima during his second stint in office.
Odebrecht is at the heart of the Lavo Jota investigation. In 2016 the company entered into a plea bargain with the US Justice Department, admitting that it had paid Latin American officials some $800 million (€708 million) in bribes in return for building contracts. The company also admitted that it had paid three successive Peruvian presidents $29 million as part of the scam.
Three former presidents arrested
Garcia’s successor Ollanta Humala was arrested in July 2017 on suspicion of money laundering, and Humala’s successor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested on the same charge just last week.
The 69-year-old Garcia, who denies any wrongdoing, had previously sought asylum in Uruguay, though his request was denied after Peru banned him from leaving the country.
From nationalist to free marketer
Garcia rose to prominence in the 1980s as a nationalist firebrand, though his first tenure in office was marked by hyperinflation, corruption, and the growth of the communist Shining Path guerrilla movement.
When he returned to power in 2006, he positioned himself as a free-market conservative. His second presidency saw a commodities and investment boom for the country, with Odebrecht being one of the main drivers thereof.
The former president’s lawyer, Erasmo Reyna, said of Garcia’s attempted suicide, “This morning there was a regrettable accident: The president took the decision to shoot himself.”
js/msh (AP, Reuters)