LIMA, Peru — Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia said Monday he would cooperate with prosecutors investigating him for possible corruption after Uruguay turned down his asylum request and forced him to leave the residence of its ambassador to the Andean nation.
In denying Garcia’s asylum claim, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said there was no evidence to support the politician’s claim that he is being targeted politically.
“In Peru the three branches of government function freely and autonomously, especially in this case the judicial power,” Tabare Vazquez said.
Around the same time that Vazquez announced his decision in Uruguay’s capital, a silver-colored sedan left his ambassador’s residence in Lima, taking Garcia first to his daughter’s home and then to his mansion in the leafy Miraflores neighborhood.
At the home, an aide read a statement in which Garcia vowed to cooperate with prosecutors, saying he had only sought asylum because he had received information that he would be detained despite having never missed several previous judicial citations.
“When I am called to testify I will do so promptly, as I already have been doing, and hoping that rumors of my arbitrary detention are false,” the statement said.
Garcia fled to Uruguay’s diplomatic mission a little more than two weeks ago after a judge banned him from leaving the country for 18 months as investigators probe allegations he received illegal payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Garcia has argued that he was the victim of false testimony by political enemies who told prosecutors he allegedly took bribes from Odebrecht during the construction of Lima’s metro during his 2006-2011 government. He has not been charged.
Odebrecht has at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal since admitting in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid corrupt officials across Latin America nearly $800 million in exchange for major infrastructure contracts.
The scandal has led to the jailing of numerous politicians across the region, especially in Peru, where former President Pedro Pablo Kucyznski was forced to resign for hiding his past work as a consultant to Odebrecht and Garcia, as well as two other former presidents, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo, are being probed for allegedly taking illegal payments.