International Briefs

Ex-Peru president kills himself as police try to arrest him

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former Peruvian President Alan GarcÌa shot himself in the head and died Wednesday moments after police arrived at his home to arrest him on corruption allegations in Latin America’s largest graft probe.

President Martin Vizcarra announced the death on Twitter, saying that doctors in the capital city of Lima performed emergency surgery and tried three times to resuscitate Garcia.

It was a shocking end for a man who twice ruled Peru before becoming ensnared more recently in the corruption scandal involving the construction giant Odebrecht. The scandal has touched nearly every living former president.

When they arrived, police found GarcÌa on the second floor of his home, a leafy mansion in the city’s Miraflores district. He asked for a moment to call his lawyer, entered a bedroom and closed the door behind him, Interior Minister Carlos Mor·n said.

“Minutes later, the sound of gunfire was heard,” Mor·n said. “Police forced their way into the room and found him.”

Prosecutors suspect the former president received more than $100,000 from Odebrecht, disguised as a payment to speak at a conference in Brazil.

GarcÌa repeatedly professed his innocence and said he was the victim of false testimony by political enemies who accused him of taking more than $100,000 from the company. Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid nearly $800 million throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

The former head of state’s attorney accused authorities of neglecting to provide GarcÌa with information on why he was being detained or show their official identifications when they showed up to arrest him.

“The president, upset over this situation, knowing his absolute innocence … had this terrible accident,” attorney Erasmo Reyna said.

The stunning turn of events comes four months after GarcÌa sought asylum in Uruguay as prosecutors in Peru investigated allegations he illegally took payments from Odebrecht. He remained there for a little more than two weeks before his request was denied.

In rejecting his claim, the South American nation’s embassy said there was no evidence to support GarcÌa’s contention that he was being targeted politically.

“In Peru, the three branches of government function freely and autonomously, especially in the case of judicial power,” Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez said.

Peru has gone further than any other country outside Brazil in prosecuting politicians tied to the Odebrecht probe. All but one living former head of state is being investigated for corruption tied to the scandal.

Bus carrying Germans crashes, kills 28 on Portugal’s Madeira

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A tour bus carrying German tourists crashed on Portugal’s Madeira Island on Wednesday, killing 28 people and injuring 28 others, local authorities said.

The bus carrying 55 people rolled down a steep hillside after veering off the road on a bend east of the capital, Funchal, and struck at least one house, local mayor Filipe Sousa told cable news channel SIC. The victims included 17 women and 11 men.

Pedro Calado, vice president of Madeira’s regional government, told a news conference that the injured, including the Portuguese driver and a local tour guide, were taken to a local hospital. He did not say whether anyone not on the bus was among the victims.

He declined to provide a breakdown of the victims’ nationalities, but Sousa said the bus was carrying a group of German tourists.

Local television showed bodies scattered over the rural hillside next to the Atlantic Ocean. Madeira, off northwest Africa, is a popular vacation destination for Europeans due to its mild climate and lush, hilly landscape.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a tweet that he had sent condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I learned of this tragic accident in Madeira with deep sorrow,” he said.

Merkel’s spokesman said “terrible news is reaching us from Madeira.” Steffen Seibert said on Twitter that “we are in deepest sorrow over all those who lost their lives in the bus crash.” He added: “Our thoughts are with the injured.”

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