LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s former president Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima on Wednesday, hours after shooting himself in the head to avoid arrest in connection with a bribery probe, authorities said on Wednesday.
A skilled orator elected president twice, first as a firebrand leftist and then as a champion of foreign investment and free trade, Garcia had been dogged by allegations of corruption in recent years that he had repeatedly denied.
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.
While three former presidents in Peru have also been ordered to jail in connection with Odebrecht, Garcia had blamed his legal troubles on political persecution, accusing President Martin Vizcarra without evidence of trying to silence him.
“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in some of his last broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.
Members of his once-powerful Apra party announced his death to crowds gathered outside of hospital Casimiro Ulloa, where he suffered three cardiac arrests and underwent emergency surgery.
Garcia, who had six adult children, was 69.