Alan Garc�a, Ex-President of Peru, Is Dead After Shooting Himself During Arrest

 nytimes.com  04/17/2019 16:21:02   Andrea Zarate and Nicholas Casey
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Former President Alan Garc�a of Peru in Lima last year.CreditCreditErnesto Arias/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Andrea Zarate and Nicholas Casey

LIMA, Peru  A former president of Peru died on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head when the authorities tried to arrest him in connection with one of the biggest corruption scandals in Latin American history.

A personal secretary for the former president, Alan Garc�a, 69, confirmed his death.

The secretary, Ricardo Pineda, also told a Peruvian radio station that as the authorities arrived at the former presidents home with an arrest warrant, he locked himself into his bedroom, shot himself and was rushed to a hospital.

The charges relate to Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction giant, which last year admitted to $800 million in payoffs in exchange for lucrative contracts for projects including roads, dams and bridges. The company was a main builder across Latin America, where it profited from a commodities boom that lead to an explosion in infrastructure construction in the early the 2000s.

In Peru, Odebrecht built an electric train in Lima, the capital, and a $4.5 billion road that connected the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon Basin. It was also behind the expansion of an irrigation project called Chavimochic, a $1.9 billion deal that allowed the irrigation a section of desert on Perus northern coast, paving the way for the region to become an exporter of asparagus and strawberries.

The revelation that Odebrecht had secured contracts through graft set off a flurry of investigations by prosecutors and lawmakers across Latin America as they sought to learn who was on the receiving end of the payments.

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Police officers outside the hospital where Mr. Garc�a was being treated on Wednesday.CreditGuadalupe Pardo/Reuters

The inquiries have reached the highest echelons of politics and business across the region, including several of Perus former presidents.

Last week, prosecutors detained Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the predecessor to the countrys current president, in an investigation related to the case. They have asked that he be held up to three years as they gather evidence.

Alejandro Toledo, who was president in the early 2000s, is wanted for extradition from the United States; Ollanta Humala, Mr. Garc�as successor, was detained as well, before being released.

Mr. Garc�a served as president from 1985 to 1990, and then another term from 2006 to 2011, presiding over an economic collapse in his first term and an expansion in his second.

His second term became the point of investigation for prosecutors, who began to examine whether campaign contributions for Mr. Garc�as American Popular Revolutionary Alliance party were tied to the Odebrecht scandal.

After the authorities issued a travel ban for Mr. Garc�a, he fled to the Uruguayan Embassy in Lima to request asylum. Uruguay rejected the request.

On Wednesday morning, the Peruvian authorities ordered an initial 10-day detention of Mr. Garc�a on accusations of money laundering, influence peddling and collusion. The measure allows officials to hold suspects before charges are formally presented.

Andrea Zarate reported from Lima, and Nicholas Casey from Medellin, Colombia.

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