Peru's ex-President Alan García shoots himself before arrest

Former president of Peru Alan Garcia arrives at the prosecutor's office in Lima on Feb. 16 2017

Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia, under investigation in a corruption scandal, reportedly shot himself early Tuesday as police arrived at his home.

Current President Martinez Vizcarra said the 69-year-old head of state died Wednesday after undergoing emergency surgery at the José Casimiro Ulloa Hospital in Peru's capital. Health Minister Zulema Tomas said Garcia suffered three cardiac arrests and that he was in "very critical" condition, while Peruvian news outlets reported that he was in a coma.

He had denied ever receiving money from Odebrecht, which is at the center of Latin America's biggest corruption scandal after admitting in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid corrupt officials across Latin America almost $800 million in exchange for major infrastructure contracts.

"This morning there was a regrettable accident: the president took the decision to shoot himself", Erasmo Reyna, Garcia's lawyer, told reporters outside 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.

Judicial orders obtained by The Associated Press said an order for Garcia's arrest had been issued.

"He entered his room and closed the door behind him", Moran said. Officers forced entry into the bedroom and found Garcia in a sitting position with a wound to the head.

The former president fled to Uruguayan embassy in Lima and sought political asylum, but his request was refused.

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

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case. Prosecutors are now seeking to extend Kuczynski's detention until he can be brought to trial.

Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia gestures as he speaks upon his arrival at the military airport in Buenos Aires on September 30, 2010.

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