Brazil police arrest wanted TV host
Man accused of ordering killings to boost show ratings surrenders to authorities.
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2009 00:51 GMT

Wallace Souza, left, hosted television
crime show 'Canal Livre' [EPA] 

A Brazilian television show host, accused of ordering murders to boost his crime show's ratings, has surrendered to the authorities.

Wallace Souza, who is also a former state legislator, turned himself in to police in the Amazonas state capital of Manaus on Friday, officials said.

Authorities spent four days looking for Souza after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of murder, drug trafficking, gang formation and weapons possession.

Police in July accused Souza of ordering the killings of at least five men said to be drug traffickers.

They said that he would have his television cameras arrive first on the scene to boost ratings of his crime programme "Canal Livre".

Legislative immunity

The programme showed Souza in a studio denouncing crime often with exclusive footage of arrests, crime scenes and drug seizures.

Souza's programme apparently aroused suspicion last year after a report showed the body of a suspected drug dealer burning in the woods long before the police arrived.

The television show host has denied the accusations claiming to be the "victim of a plot by organised crime."

In an interview with The Associated Press in August, he denied any role in the killings and said his reporters managed to get to crime scenes so quickly because of well-placed sources and monitoring scanners for police radio dispatches.

Souza, who was elected as a state representative in 2006, had remained free because of legislative immunity that prevents Brazilian legislators from arrest on most charges unless they are caught in the act.

But the legislative assembly in Manaus expelled him last week, stripping him of his parliamentary immunity and allowing the charges against him to proceed.

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