Peru's ex-leader denied graft claims in suicide note

People carrying the coffin of late Peruvian ex-president Alan Garcia during his funeral procession in Lima on Friday. He died in hospital on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head at his home as the police were about to arrest him. He was suspe
People carrying the coffin of late Peruvian ex-president Alan Garcia during his funeral procession in Lima on Friday. He died in hospital on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head at his home as the police were about to arrest him. He was suspected of having taken bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in return for large-scale public works contracts.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIMA • A suicide note in which Peru's Alan Garcia denied corruption charges against him set the backdrop for the ex-president's funeral last Friday, two days after he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger as police arrived to arrest him on bribery charges linked to the Odebrecht graft scandal.

The sweeping affair, which has tainted politicians across Latin America, swept up another Peruvian ex-president when a judge ordered 80-year-old Pedro Pablo Kuczynski jailed for up to three years on Odebrecht-related money laundering charges.

Garcia was suspected of having taken bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in return for large-scale public works contracts.

"I've seen others paraded in handcuffs and living a miserable existence, but Alan Garcia will not suffer such an injustice or circus," the late ex-president, 69, wrote in a note to his six children.

It was read out at his funeral by his sobbing daughter Luciana.

Garcia (1985-90, 2006-11) and Kuczynski (2016-2018) are two of four former Peru presidents embroiled in various corruption scandals. Garcia had a long and controversial political career in which he seemed obsessed with his legacy.

INJUSTICE

I've seen others paraded in handcuffs and living a miserable existence, but Alan Garcia will not suffer such an injustice or circus.

FORMER PERUVIAN PRESIDENT ALAN GARCIA, in a note to his six children.

He accused the authorities of using corruption investigations as a tool for "humiliation, harassment and not to find truths", then wrote dramatically: "Others sell themselves, but not me."

In his suicide note, Mr Garcia "victimises himself, blames opponents for his situation, then sacrifices himself for the sake of his party", historian Juan Luis Orrego opined on RPP radio.

Kuczynski, currently being treated for hypertension and heart issues at a private hospital, was sentenced to 36 months of pre-trial detention as he is being investigated for money laundering, the Peruvian court handling corruption cases said on Twitter.

Kuczynski, a successful Wall Street banker and former economy minister before becoming president, had already been under pre-trial detention and was banned from leaving the country.

Kuczynski allegedly received Odebrecht kickbacks for granting them a contract to build a highway from Lima through Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean, and another to build a major hydroelectric project in northern Peru, according to prosecutors.

Other alleged dirty money includes US$300,000 (S$406,000) in unreported Odebrecht cash to support Kuczynski's 2016 presidential election.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Peru's ex-leader denied graft claims in suicide note'. Print Edition | Subscribe