Alan García: Peru’s former president kills himself ahead of arrest

File image of former Peru president Alan García Image copyright AFP
Image caption Alan García served as president of Peru from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011

Former Peruvian President Alan García has died after shooting himself as police arrived at his home to arrest him over bribery allegations.

Mr García was rushed to hospital in the capital, Lima. His death was confirmed by current President Martín Vizcarra.

A crowd of supporters gathered outside the hospital and were held back by a line of police.

Mr García was accused of taking bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht – claims he denied.

Mr García served as president from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011.

What happened at his home?

Officers had been sent to arrest him in connection with the allegations.

Interior Minister Carlos Morán told reporters that when police arrived, Mr García asked to make a phone call and went into a room and closed the door.

Minutes later, a shot rang out, Mr Morán said. Police forced the door open and found Mr García sitting on a chair with a bullet wound to his head.

Mr García underwent emergency surgery in the Casimiro Ulloa hospital in Lima.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Supporters of Mr García gathered outside the hospital in Lima

Health Minister Zulema Tomás said Mr García had to be resuscitated three times after suffering cardiac arrests before finally succumbing to his injuries.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Vizcarra said he was “shocked” by the former president’s death and sent his condolences to his family.

What was Mr García accused of?

Investigators say he took bribes from Odebrecht during his second term in office, linked to a metro line building project in the capital.

Odebrecht has admitted paying almost $30m (£23m) in bribes in Peru since 2004.

But Mr García maintained he was the victim of political persecution, writing in a tweet on Tuesday that there was “no clue or evidence” against him.

In November last year he unsuccessfully applied for political asylum in Uruguay.

Alan García – ‘Latin America’s Kennedy’

Image copyright AFP
  • Born on 23 May 1949 in Lima
  • Studied law and sociology
  • Elected to Peru’s Chamber of Deputies for the Aprista Party of Peru (APRA)
  • Became Peru’s youngest ever president in 1985 at the age of 36
  • A gifted orator, he was described by some as “Latin America’s Kennedy”
  • Served two terms as president, first from 1986-1990, then from 2006-2011

Source: BBC Monitoring

What is the Odebrecht scandal?

Odebrecht is a Brazilian construction giant behind major infrastructure projects around the world, including venues for the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup in its home country.

But under the glare of anti-corruption investigators the company admitted paying bribes in more than half of the countries in Latin America, as well as in Angola and Mozambique in Africa.

Investigators say Odebrecht bribed officials or electoral candidates in exchange for lucrative building contracts.

BBC South America business correspondent Daniel Gallas says the scandal shows no sign of abating almost four years since it was uncovered.

No other company in Latin America has had such an ability to sustain so many high-level connections across so many different parties and countries for such a long period of time, he says.

How is Peru affected?

Four of Peru’s most recent presidents are all being investigated for alleged corruption, with a fifth – Alberto Fujimori – serving a prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

Ex-leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was taken to hospital with high blood pressure on Wednesday just days after his own arrest in connection with Odebrecht charges. Reports said he was in intensive care.

The current leader of the opposition, Keiko Fujimori, is also in pre-trial detention on charges of taking $1.2m (£940,000) in bribes from Odebrecht.

In October, an opinion poll by Datum showed 94% of Peruvians believed the level of corruption in their country was either high or very high.

The scandal embroiling Peru’s presidents

  • Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in office 2016-2018, resigned over a vote-buying scandal and detained last week
  • Ollanta Humala, in office 2011-2016, accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht to bankroll his election campaign, in pre-trial detention in Peru
  • Alan García, in office 2006-2011, suspected of taking kickbacks from Odebrecht, sought asylum in Uruguay’s Lima embassy but had his request denied
  • Alejandro Toledo, in office 2001-2006, accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from Odebrecht, currently a fugitive in the US

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