Hospital Casimiro Ulloa director Enrique Eladio Gutierrez speaks to the press outside the hospital in Lima as Peruvian former president Alan Garcia undergoes emergency surgery, April 17 2019. Picture: LUKA GONZALES/AFP
Hospital Casimiro Ulloa director Enrique Eladio Gutierrez speaks to the press outside the hospital in Lima as Peruvian former president Alan Garcia undergoes emergency surgery, April 17 2019. Picture: LUKA GONZALES/AFP

Lima — 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 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.

Alan Garcia. PIcture: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Alan Garcia. PIcture: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Local TV channel America reported Garcia was in a coma and broadcast images of Garcia's son, supporters and legislators 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.

In 2018, 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.

Reuters