Brazilian football star surrenders over gruesome murder

Bruno Souza, a star goalkeeper and captain of defending club champion Flamengo, has surrendered to police in connection with the suspected death of his former lover.

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RIO DE JANEIRO // It takes quite a saga to push the World Cup off the front pages in Brazil, but such is the gruesome story of a goalkeeper accused of ordering the murder of his former lover whose body parts were then fed to the dogs. At the centre of the dark drama is Bruno Souza, a star goalkeeper and captain of defending club champion Flamengo, who surrendered to police on Wednesday to face questioning in connection with the disappearance and suspected death of Eliza Samudio.

The story of the married 25-year-old player known simply as Bruno has stunned this football-mad nation, where police held a press conference on Thursday to lay out the horrific crimes and Souza's bloody role in them. "An idol like Bruno, from such a major team, is a monster for what he has done to this girl," said Edson Moreira, the state police commissioner of Minas Gerais, one of the officials leading the investigation.

"The crime was coldly planned and executed. We can conclude that Eliza is dead," he said. Among the macabre details divulged by police: they believe Souza was in a home near Belo Horizonte with Samudio last month at the time of her murder, and that her body was later cut into pieces, some of which were fed to dogs in a bid to cover up the murder. When Souza was transferred from Rio de Janeiro to a police station on Thursday in the city of Belo Horizonte, he was met with cries of "murderer!" from a crowd of onlookers, O Globo reported on its website.

Samudio was described by the newspaper as "a student, model and pornographic film actress". She was also the mother of a four-month-old baby and reportedly had sought to establish that Souza was the child's father. Samudio's body has not been found, but Souza's 17-year-old cousin, who acknowledged helping in her abduction, claimed in a lengthy deposition to police that the woman was strangled, officials said.

The cousin also claimed to have heard Souza tell associates to "solve the problem" with Samudio. According to investigators, she was strangled by a former police officer, Marcos Aparecido dos Santos. Another one of Souza's cousins said in a deposition that Santos committed "barbaric tortures" against Samudio and that music was blared from her locked room so that neighbours could not hear her screams, according to the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. The victim had begged Santos to stop abusing her, saying she could no longer bear it, according to O Estado, citing the deposition. "You are not going to bear it anymore," Santos replied. "You are going to die."

Both papers reported that Santos fed some of her remains to the Rottweiler dogs kept at the house. Samudio met Souza last year at the home of a Flamengo teammate, according to the Istoe magazine. In October, when she was five months pregnant, she reportedly filed a complaint against Souza, saying he kidnapped and beat her and tried to force her to swallow abortion-inducing medication. In June, Samudio met Souza near Belo Horizonte, apparently thinking the two were going to reach an agreement for care of the baby. It was on June 7, the last time a friend saw her alive. Mr Moreira said on Thursday that police determined from the evidence that Souza remained with Samudio until her death.

"He was with her. This is the conclusion we reached," he said. Authorities said they ordered the detention of Souza's wife, Dayana Rodrigues, who was found with Samudio's baby. For his part, Souza recently told radio Globo that he had a "clear conscience" about Samudio's disappearance. * Agence France-Presse