Facing arrest, Peru ex-president shoots himself

In this file image former Peruvian president Alan Garcia speaks to the media as he arrives at the National Prosecution office in Lima Peru in March 2018

Peru ex-president Garcia, embroiled in corruption probe, shoots himself

A former president of Peru has died after shooting himself in the head as police entered his house to arrest him on corruption charges.

By Own Correspondent- "Alan Garcia has died, long live Apra", said Omar Quesada, the general secretary of Garcia's American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Apra) party.

Current president Martinez Vizcarra said the 69-year-old head of state died after undergoing emergency surgery at the Jose Casimiro Ulloa Hospital in Peru's capital. "I send my condolences to his family and loved ones", Vizcarra wrote in a tweet.

But, like top officials across the continent, he was swept up in the Odebrecht scandal and was under investigation on suspicion of taking a bribe from the Brazilian construction giant.

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Garcia was one of nine people a judge had ordered to be arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in bribes distributed by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America's biggest graft scandal when it admitted in 2016 that it had paid kickbacks to politicians across the region to secure lucrative contracts.

In November past year, Garcia had requested asylum at the Uruguayan embassy after a judge banned him from leaving the country for 18 months.

Neighbouring South American nation Uruguay rejected his asylum plea late a year ago.

He had denied wrongdoing.

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Commenting on the former official's condition after the incident, Peru's Health Minister Zulema Tomas called it "very critical" and "very serious".

Although under investigation by the public prosecutor's office, Garcia had not been charged with anything. Three other former Peruvian presidents - Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo - have been accused of a role in the scam.

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

"In Peru, the three branches of government function freely and autonomously, especially in the case of judicial power", Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said.

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He is now under investigation after allegedly accepting bribes from Brazilian construction titan Odebrecht in return for contracts during his most recent spell in office. A hearing is scheduled to take place Wednesday to decide whether to increase his detention to three years.

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