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Brazil TV star surrenders

October 11th, 2009
Wallace Souza

Wallace Souza

A BRAZILIAN television star and ex-state legislator accused of ordering murders to boost his hit crime show’s ratings, has surrendered to authorities after being on the run, police said on Friday.

Wallace Souza turned himself in to the police this morning,’ a police spokesman in the Amazonas state capital Manaus told AFP.

The popular television personality, a former policeman, had been missing since Monday, after a local judge issued an arrest warrant against him for murder, drug trafficking and criminal association.

Souza was elected as a state representative in 2006, but the legislative assembly in Manaus expelled him last week, stripping him of his parliamentary immunity and allowing charges against him to move forward. Souza is accused of being part of a criminal organization – 40 of whose members face murder charges – forming an armed gang and trafficking drugs and illegal weapons.

Authorities said in July that Souza ordered the killings of at least five drug traffickers and would have his TV cameras arrive first on the scene to bolster viewership of his crimewatch show Canal Livre on Manaus television. Police reportedly became suspicious of Souza’s programme last year, after a report showed the body of a suspected drug dealer burning in the woods long before police arrived.

Souza has denied the accusations and claimed to be the ‘victim of a plot by organised crime.’ In April, his son Raphael Souza was jailed after a police search of his home turned up arms and munitions reserved for the use of military personnel.

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