Police in Sao Paolo, Brazil, are investigating Brazilian state legislator Wallace Souza, who is also the host of the popular crime television show Canal Livre. Authorities suspect the politician of ordering at least five murders to bolster his ratings and emphasize his point that violence was skyrocketing in the Amazon region of the country.
State police intelligence chief Thomaz Vasconcelos told the Associated Press, "The order to execute always came from the legislator and his son,
who then alerted the TV crews to get to the scene before the police." Police are also charging Souza with drug trafficking.
"The killings of competing drug traffickers," Vasconcelos explained, "Appear
to have been committed to get rid of his rivals and increase the
audience of the TV show."
Police confirmed that Souza has been charged with counts of drug trafficking, gang
formation and weapons possession, but has not been formally charged with any murders.
Souza vehemently denies the charges. "I was the one who organized legislative inquiries into organized
crime, the prison system, corruption, drug trafficking by police, and
pedophilia," Souza insisted to the AP. Souza's lawyer, Francisco Balieiro, rebuffed the charges, saying, "There is not one piece of material proof in these accusations."
Brazilian law has kept Souza out of jail because of political immunity, which keeps him from being arrested as long as he is a state legislator. The allegations are currently being investigated by a special task force. Judicial authorities
will eventually have to decide whether the case against Souza will go forward.