Guatemala bribe scandal fugitive surrenders

Guatemala City (AFP) - The alleged mastermind of a bribery scheme that forced the resignation last month of Guatemala's president turned himself into authorities Monday after nearly six months on the run, the public prosecutor's office said.

Juan Carlos Monzon surrendered at the Supreme Court in downtown Guatemala City to face charges of conspiracy, customs fraud and passive bribery, said a spokeswoman for the court.

Monzon, a private secretary to vice president Roxana Baldetti, allegedly devised a scheme known as "la linea" in which importers bypassed customs duties in return for bribes.

The scandal, uncovered by prosecutors and a UN-backed international commission against impunity, brought down the government of president Otto Perez, who resigned September 2.

Perez and Baldetti, accused of receiving bribes, are both in jail awaiting trial in the case.

Monzon had been in hiding since the scandal broke in mid-April.