A politician who hosted a crime TV show with graphic footage of murder victims is under investigation by Brazilian police for allegedly ordering killings to boost his show's popularity.

Police confirmed they are investigating Wallace Souza and his son after claims that at least five killings were ordered to boost his ratings.

Detectives became suspicious when his television crews often seemed to be the first at the scene of the crime.

State police intelligence chief Thomaz Vasconcelos said the alleged crimes appeared to have served the Souzas in two ways; 'they eliminated drug-trafficking rivals, and they boosted ratings'.

Wallace Souza's lawyer, Francisco Balieiro, said his client vehemently denied the accusations and accused political opponents of trying to disgrace him with false accusations.

Mr Souza became a media personality after a career as a police officer that ended in disgrace.

He started 'Canal Livre' in the 1990s on a local station in Manaus, the capital of Brazil's Amazonas state.

It became extremely popular among the 1.7m residents of Manaus before going off the air late last year as police intensified their investigation.

The show featured Mr Souza, in a studio, railing against rampant crime in the state, punctuated with often exclusive footage of arrests, crime scenes and drug seizures.