By Flora Charner, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Rafael Romo, CNN
Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head as police were preparing to arrest him on Wednesday morning. His death was confirmed by current President Martin Vizcarra, who expressed his condolences over Twitter.
Garcia, who served as president from 1985 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2011, was under investigation for money laundering and taking bribes in connection with a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed a number of former Latin American leaders.
When police arrived to execute an arrest warrant at his home at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Garcia asked them to call his attorney and went to his bedroom, interior minister Carlos Morán told CNN affiliate TV Peru.
Moments later, a gunshot was heard. Officers forced entry into the bedroom, where they found Garcia with a wound to the head, Morán said.
Garcia, 69, was rushed by police to a hospital in the capital Lima, where he was resuscitated three times, but doctors were ultimately unable to save him, according to the health minister.”
The former president made the decision to shoot himself,” his lawyer Erasmo Reyna said outside the Casimiro Ulloa hospital before his death.” Devastated by the death of former President Alan Garcia, I send my condolences to his family and loved ones,” President Vizcarra tweeted Wednesday.
Global corruption scandal
Garcia is accused of receiving kickbacks from one of Latin America’s largest construction firms — the Brazil-based company Odebrecht — during the building of an electric train for the Lima metro while he was president during his second term. He has denied the claims.
In his most recent tweet, posted on Tuesday, Garcia said there was “no shred of evidence” against him, accused Peruvian prosecutors of “SPECULATION,” and said he had “never sold out and that is proven.” In November last year, Garcia had requested asylum at the Uruguayan embassy after a judge banned him from leaving the country for 18 months.
The Uruguayan government denied the request in December. Odebrecht is accused of doling out nearly $800 million in bribes between 2001 and 2016 to get contracts from governments to build roads, bridges, dams and highways.
Authorities say Odebrecht officials shipped cash across the globe — from one shell bank account to the next — en route to politicians’ pockets in a dozen countries, including Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, and Mozambique.
Some of the bribes filtered through the United States. The corruption scandal — one of the biggest in modern history — implicated several former Latin American presidents. Last year, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned one day before the congress voted on his impeachment.
He continued to deny any wrongdoing in the Odebrecht scandal.Ecuador suspended Vice President Jorge Glas, who was later sentenced to six years in prison in December 2017 for receiving $13.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht.
And former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering, including allegedly allowing Odebrecht to pay for his family’s vacation home.