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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 18:10 GMT
Drugs trial opens in Brazil



In Brazil, fifty-two people have gone on trial in one of the country's biggest drug-trafficking cases.

Security is tight around the court in the remote Amazonian state of Acre, with hundreds of federal police officers patrolling the streets.

The accused include one of Acre's most powerful politicians, Hildebrando Pascoal, who's alleged to have used his position as a former police chief to smuggle cocaine from Bolivia into Brazil.

He also faces charges of kidnapping and murder. The allegations against Mr Pascoal and the other defendants emerged last year during a special parliamentary inquiry into organised crime.

Mr Pascoal was expelled from Congress, thereby losing his immunity from prosecution.

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