Peru's president fires justice minister as new scandal spreads

FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Martin Vizcarra and new Justice Minister Salvador Heresi attend a swearing-in ceremony at the government palace in Lima, Peru April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra fired his justice minister on Friday after local media released an audio of a secretly-recorded phone conversation between the minister and a judge under investigation for influence peddling.

Vizcarra announced his decision to ask Justice Minister Salvador Heresi to resign hours after local TV station Panorama released the audio of the conversation, in which Heresi is heard asking Judge Cesar Hinostroza to advise him on a legislative proposal.

Hinostroza has been at the center of a scandal that has rocked Peru’s justice system since investigative news outlet IDL-Reporteros started releasing secretly-recorded audios of phone conversations in which Hinostroza appears to be negotiating favors.

Hinostroza has denied wrongdoing. Heresi denied any wrongdoing in broadcast interviews on Friday and said on Twitter that he would step down.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Leslie Adler