Former Peru president Alan Garcia seeks asylum amid bribe probe

Peruvian former president Alan Garcia arrives at the prosecutor's office in Lima on November 15, 2018

Former president Alan Garcia has sought asylum in the embassy of Uruguay in Lima after being barred from leaving the country pending a corruption investigation, Peru's foreign ministry said Sunday.

Garcia, who was twice president of Peru, is under investigation for bribes allegedly paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to secure contracts during his second presidency, from 2006 to 2011.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials over the course of three administrations.

A foreign ministry statement said it had been informed by Uruguay's ambassador to Peru that Garcia arrived at his residence Saturday night seeking asylum.

A court order issued Saturday barred Garcia from leaving the country for 18 months while prosecutors investigate Odebrecht bribes to win a contract to build Lima's first metro line when Garcia was president.

Garcia, who also was president from 1985 to 1990, has said he is the victim of political persecution, a charge rejected by President Martin Vizcarra, who insisted the investigation is being conducted independently by the judiciary and state prosecutors.

"We did not intervene at all. They have complete independence," Vizcarra told reporters Sunday.