Brazilian crime show host arrested

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: In Brazil it's the host of a popular TV crime show who is in trouble with the authorities. The show is a sort of America's Most Wanted meets reality TV. It covers crimes in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The host under investigation for allegedly ordering some of the very crimes his program featured. The BBC's Gary Duffy has been covering this story from Sao Paolo. Gary who is this TV host and what exactly has he been accused of?

GARY DUFFY: Well the man in question is called Wallace Souza and essentially he is a politician and a TV host. He's been elected at least three times to the local state assembly in the state of Amazonas. Quite a popular figure. At least a couple of times he was elected with the most votes in the state. He presents this kind of show which is not untypical of what you see about crime on Brazilian television. Reporters going right to the scene � quite sort of graphic accounts of crimes and murders and violence. And he was the presenter back in the studio giving a very trenchant, aggressive denunciation of crime and violence in Brazilian society. But now the police are alleging that in fact he and his son were actually ordering killings and he's suspected of being involved in at least five killings that were reported on his program. And the police were questioning why television crews were arriving so quickly at the scene of some of these incidents.

WERMAN: Is there any hard evidence to link Wallace Souza to these murders?

DUFFY: You know certainly he is saying that there's not any substantial evidence to back the allegations that are being made by the police, no. The police did do a search of his house and said they found more than $150,000 in various currencies and they also found some ammunition that was of restricted category that was not only I think restricted to the people like the police or the military and as well as that a list of high caliber weapons sort of written down on a bit of paper. What he's saying essentially that these allegations are completely absurd. That why would this program, which is so popular, have to do something like this in order to boost its ratings?

WERMAN: And where's Wallace Souza now? I mean he's a lawmaker. Is he still acting as a legislator?

DUFFY: Yes he is. The program itself is discontinued but there's kind of a byproduct of after the military dictatorship in Brazil there was a very liberal constitution and one of the things they did I think to protect lawmakers is that they have a kind of immunity. So currently he has immunity from arrest. That situation potentially can change I suppose if the state assembly were to consider the matter. But at the moment his son has been arrested. His son also protesting his innocence. But Wallace is at the moment still a free man.

WERMAN: An ironic situation considering Wallace Souza began his career as a law enforcement officer.

DUFFY: Yes he was at one stage involved in the police and very proudly boasts of that here when he said once when I became a police officer in 1979 bandits or criminals weren't allied in this city. No way he said. But he was according to the police version of events again fired for involvement in scams involving fuel theft and pension fraud. So yes it is certainly a turnaround in events if he's under suspicion now of being involved in organizing killings.

WERMAN: The BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paolo. Gary thank you for speaking with us.

DUFFY: You're very welcome.

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