Peru’s former president Alan Garcia shot himself in the head on Wednesday to avoid arrest in connection with alleged bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht, taking his own life, in the most dramatic turn yet in Latin America’s largest graft scandal.
Garcia, a towering and charismatic figure who played a central role in Peruvian politics for more than three decades, died in a hospital at age 69 after shooting himself at his house in Lima when police arrived with a warrant for his arrest.
- A closed door, A shot heard
After police arrived at Garcia’s house to arrest him early on Wednesday, Garcia told them he had to call his attorney, Interior Minister Carlos Moran said.
“He entered a room and closed the door behind him,” Moran told a news conference shortly before Garcia’s death was confirmed. “Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard and police forcibly entered and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head.”
Garcia’s death will likely throw cold water on the Odebrecht probe in Peru. It may also deepen the divide between centrist President Martin Vizcarra and the rightwing opposition that controls Congress, where Garcia had influential allies.
Some of Garcia’s supporters called his suicide a heroic act.
“Garcia made a decision as a free man. It was a decision of dignity and honor,” Mauricio Mulder, an APRA lawmaker, said in broadcast comments.
Vizcarra ordered flags flown at half staff and declared a three-day national period of mourning for Garcia. Garcia’s family members opted to break with protocol and not have Vizcarra or a government representative preside over his funeral, local media said.
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