In Peru, supporters mourn ex-leader Garcia after suicide

FRANKLIN BRICENO
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Men carry the coffin of Peru's late President Alan Garcia outside his party's headquarters where his wake was held, during his funeral procession in Lima, Peru, Friday, April 19, 2019. Garcia shot himself in the head and died Wednesday as officers waited to arrest him in a massive graft probe that has put the country's most prominent politicians behind bars and provoked a reckoning over corruption. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Large crowds on Friday gathered in the Peruvian capital for the funeral procession of former president Alan Garcia, who killed himself after authorities arrived at his home to arrest him for alleged involvement in a corruption case.

Mourners carried Garcia's coffin through the streets of Lima ahead of the cremation of a man who twice led the nation. His first term in the 1980s was marred by financial chaos and rebel violence, but he earned a chance at political redemption when Peruvians returned him to office in 2006.

The memorial for Garcia, a powerful orator who was both charismatic and polarizing, included a wake at the headquarters of the party that he once led, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance.

Luciana García Nores, Garcia's daughter, read a note said to have been written by her father before he turned a gun on himself. In the note, he said he had fulfilled his political mission despite efforts to "criminalize" him over the decades, and that he was leaving his body in a show of "contempt" for his adversaries.

There was bitterness among some followers who believed the former president had been hounded into taking his own life.

Ricardo Pinedo, secretary to the former leader, said Garcia's critics "will live chained by their hatred, and that's how they'll die."

Adding to the grief, Peruvian police said a bus carrying Garcia supporters to the funeral crashed early Friday on the outskirts of Lima, killing eight people and injuring more than 40.

Garcia, 69, had been under investigation for allegedly taking payments from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht during work on the city's metro a decade ago. Odebrecht has admitted to doling out nearly $800 million to politicians throughout the region in exchange for state contracts.

All but one of Peru's living elected former presidents are suspected of involvement in the Odebrecht scandal.

On Friday, a judge ordered that former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski be jailed for up to three years as authorities investigate his alleged involvement in corruption. The case involves previously undisclosed payments by Odebrecht when Kuczynski was a government minister more than a decade ago.

Kuczynski resigned from the presidency last year as opposition lawmakers sought his impeachment.