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April 20, 2019

Facing arrest, Peru ex-president Garcia shoots himself

Facing arrest, Peru ex-president Garcia shoots himself
'In this file picture taken on May 28, 2010 then Peruvian President Alan Garcia inaugurates the 3rd Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean held in Lima' - By: AFP/File Cris BOURONCLE

Peru's former president Alan Garcia shot himself in the head at his home on Wednesday as police were about to arrest him in a sprawling corruption case, his lawyer and hospital officials said.

The 69-year-old Garcia was undergoing emergency surgery for "a bullet wound to his head" at the Casimiro Ulloa Emergency Hospital in Lima, the hospital said.

Peru's Health Minister Zulema Tomas said Garcia was in "very serious and critical" condition.

"We've had to resuscitate him three times. He's had three cardiac arrests," said Tomas.

"He is in a delicate condition and the prognosis is reserved," added the health ministry, which said the bullet went straight through Garcia's head.

The attempted arrest took place at 6:30 a.m. (1130 GMT) at Garcia's home in the posh Miraflores neighborhood of Lima.

"This morning there was a regrettable accident: the president took the decision to shoot himself," Erasmo Reyna, Garcia's lawyer, told reporters outside the hospital.

Garcia, who was president from 1985-90 and again from 2006-11, is suspected of having taken bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in return for large-scale public works contracts.

In November he sought refuge in the Uruguayan Embassy and applied for asylum but he left the next month after it was denied.

He is one of four Peruvian ex-presidents embroiled in various corruption scandals alongside Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials over three administrations.

Some of those payments were allegedly made during Garcia's second term in office to secure a contract to build the Lima metro.

Peruvian press reports also claim Garcia received a $100,000 payment from an illicit Odebrecht fund for giving a speech to Brazilian business leaders in Sao Paulo in May 2012.

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