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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Peru minister quits amid scandal
Peru's agriculture minister has resigned after it emerged that his son owned a hotel operating as a brothel with underage prostitutes.

Jose Leon said his son, who owns the hotel in the northern city of Trujillo, was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Mr Leon said he was stepping down out of loyalty to President Alejandro Toledo to prevent his image from being damaged by "media campaigns".

The purported scandal was exposed by an undercover reporter for a TV news show.

'Not authorised'

Mr Leon announced his decision to step down a day after the show aired the damning report.

He defended his son and the hotel manager arguing they were unaware that cleaning personnel were acting as pimps.

"This was entirely their [the cleaners'] responsibility, it was not authorised," he said.

He added that those involved had already been fired and the matter would be taken to court.

Mr Leon said he decided to resign "to clear my name and prevent this media debate from hurting or hindering the government's work".

Mr Toledo did not object to his resignation.

The scandal was first aired by Cuarto Poder, a news programme broadcast by America Television on Sunday night.

It showed footage shot by an undercover reporter who asked a hotel employee to find him a teenage prostitute.

The man summoned a scantily clad girl who was caught on camera in footage broadcast during the programme.

Observers say the scandal might prove a hard blow for Mr Toledo, who has already lost four ministers and a vice-president in corruption scandals over the past year.

His popularity has plummeted to about 6%, polls suggest, after he failed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, as promised during his election campaign.

Mr Toledo started his five-year term on July 2001 with an approval rating of about 60%.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Peru
06 May 04  |  Country profiles



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