Brazil arrests almost entire government in Dourados

Brazilian police have arrested almost the entire local council in the southern city of Dourados, leaving an unprecedented power vacuum.

Mayor Ari Artuzi, his wife, deputy, and 25 other people were detained on suspicion of fraud and corruption.

Prosecutors accuse the mayor of heading a complex corruption racket. Mr Artuzi's allies reject the charges.

A judge has been appointed to run the city of 200,000 people in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Legal experts say there are no legal provisions in Brazil for the situation in Dourados, where in effect there is no-one to run the government.

A spokesman for the council said Dourados had been left in limbo by the arrests.

Police say some 200 officers were involved in the anti-corruption operation, which began in May.

They say 100,000 reais ($57,000; £37,000) was seized from the mayor's house during the investigation.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Artuzi and his collaborators of taking a 10% cut of all public works contracts and using the money for election campaigns and to bribe other local politicians.

Among those arrested are the city's councillors for finance and administration and a hospital director.

The police have up to five days to charge or release the suspects.

(Published by BBC – September 2, 2010)

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