A Brazilian TV host has taken the ratings war to extreme levels by allegedly ordering murders to boost the audience of his crime show.
Wallace Souza, presenter of crimewatch show Canal Livre, was charged on 30 July and accused of ordering at least five murders of drug traffickers.
In a twist, though, Souza cannot be arrested because he enjoys parliamentary immunity as an elected state deputy. He also claims he is being framed by officials trying to remove him from politics.
Police chief Divanilson Cavalcanti told ABC News that since late last year police suspicions of Souza's program have grown, after a segment on the program showed that "the body of a suspected drug dealer was still burning in some woods well before police arrived".
Souza, whose bodyguard was also arrested on suspicion of carrying out nine murders, is expected to front court in two months, after being charged with running a criminal organisation that involved death squads, drug trafficking and gun-running.
The presenter made his television debut in 1989 and in the 2008 state deputy elections he was the most popular candidate.
It is alleged he was the ring leader of about 40 people who were involved in the murders.
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