Convicted Mayor Attempts Suicide in Court

Faced with a guilty verdict for masterminding a double homicide, a mayor of a remote Andean village swallowed a flask of poison in open court rather than face a 20-year sentence.

Canal N television broadcast images Tuesday of Florencio Valverde (search) making the failed suicide attempt a day earlier in a courtroom in the provincial capital of Huanuco (search), 155 miles northeast of Lima.

Reportedly proclaiming that he could not receive justice, Valverde reached into his pants pocket, pulled a small bottle of an unidentified liquid and swallowed it before guards could get to him.

He was also shown struggling with guards and writhing on the ground before he was taken to a jail hospital, where his stomach was pumped. Prison officials couldn't be reached with questions about his condition.

Canal N reported that Valverde was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for allegedly masterminding the killing of two people in the nearby village of Choras, where he was elected mayor in 2002.

Media reports said Valverde had accused the judges hearing his case of finding him guilty after he refused to pay them a $5,000 bribe.