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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Viagra-for-votes lawmaker sacked
Viagra was among the medicines handed out to voters
A member of the Brazilian Congress has been forced out of office after being found guilty of distributing Viagra tablets to buy voters' loyalty.

Antonio Jose de Moraes Souza, who represented the state of Piaui, was stripped of his mandate by an electoral court and fined $7,000 (4,000).

The court heard that the anti-impotency drug and other medicines were handed out by a doctor at a political rally.

The doctor was wearing a T-shirt and cap bearing the candidate's name.

The court ordered the second-placed candidate, Themistocles Sampaio Pereira, to take Souza's place in the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies.

Viagra seized

The charges came after police arrested the doctor, Araao Cruz Mendes, at a campaign rally in the north-eastern town of Beneditinos in August 2002.

They also seized 400 boxes of medicines, including Viagra, which the court heard were being distributed on Souza's behalf in exchange for promises of votes.

In the hearing at the Regional Electoral Court in Piaui state on Monday, Souza was found guilty by four votes to one of vote-buying.

A spokesman for Souza said he would appeal against the decision.

Correspondents say vote-buying remains common in the impoverished north-eastern region of Brazil.

Politicians have been known to offer inducements ranging from food to minor medical procedures to gain voters' support.

02 Jun 98  |  Medical notes
Country profile: Brazil
24 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Brazil
11 Dec 03  |  Country profiles

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