Peru ex-president Garcia shoots himself as police try to arrest him

FILE PHOTO: Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia talks to the media as he arrives at the National Prosecution office in Lima, Peru March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo/File Photo

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s former president Alan Garcia shot himself early on Wednesday after police arrived at his home in the capital Lima to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation, a police source said.

Garcia, 69, underwent emergency surgery at the Casimiro Ulloa hospital and suffered three cardiac arrests, Health Minister Zulema Tomas said in broadcast comments. She said he was in “very critical” condition.

Local TV channel America reported Garcia was in a coma and broadcast images of Garcia’s son, supporters and lawmakers entering the hospital, where police in riot gear stood by.

“Let’s pray to God to give him strength,” Erasmo Reyna, Garcia’s lawyer, told journalists at the hospital.

Garcia, a skilled orator who has led Peru’s once-powerful Apra party for decades, governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

Garcia was under investigation in connection with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal when it admitted publicly in 2016 that it won lucrative contracts in the region with bribes.

Last year, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.

Garcia has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Reporting By Marco Aquino; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Bill Trott and Steve Orlofsky

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