Page last updated at 04:08 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 05:08 UK

Accused Brazil TV host 'missing'

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Wallace Souza
Wallace Souza lost his parliamentary immunity when he was expelled

Police in Brazil say a TV crime show host accused of ordering killings to boost his ratings has gone missing after his arrest warrant was issued.

Wallace Souza, also a local congressman, had enjoyed parliamentary immunity until last week when the Amazonas state assembly expelled him.

A search is under way, with airports and roads from the city of Manaus in the Amazon region being monitored.

Mr Souza has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

The case made headlines around the world when the police accused Mr Souza of being involved in drug trafficking and ordering killings to increase the popularity of his TV programme.

Smear campaign

As well as being a former TV presenter, Mr Souza was a popular politician elected to the assembly in the state of Amazonas with a large majority.

However, his expulsion following a vote last week meant he lost his parliamentary immunity and now it appears he is on the run, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The authorities in Amazonas claim he ordered several killings in order to get rid of his rivals, while afterwards TV crews from his programme would mysteriously arrive at the crime scenes before the police, enabling them to secure graphic footage.

Mr Souza who has not been charged in connection with any killings, denies the accusations, and says they are part of a smear campaign by his political opponents.

However, the police say they have been unable to find the former crime show presenter despite searching a number of locations where he could have been.

It is a scene which in the past might well have made a dramatic sequence on Mr Souza's own crime show.

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