accused, now the mayor.

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    Accused killer let out of jail after winning election

    Wed Oct 6, 3:31 PM ET
    BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - A Brazilian rancher, accused of ordering the killing of four government agents inspecting claims of slavery, has been released from jail after being elected mayor of his home town.

    Anterio Manica was let out of prison on Tuesday night after being elected mayor of Unai, 90 miles from the capital Brasilia, in a landslide victory on Sunday with support from Brazil's Vice President, Jose Alencar.

    A Brazilian court ruled Manica could take office on January 1 while the justice system investigates federal police accusations he and his brother hired the gang that executed three labour ministry inspectors and their driver in January.

    "As he was elected mayor there was little concern he would try to flee," said a Federal Police spokesman in Brasilia.

    The killings highlighted the problem of continued forced labour in Brazil's countryside more than a century after the nation formally abolished slavery.

    "He (Anterio Manica) is a person with a clean record...he has not been convicted," said a spokesman for Alencar, explaining the vice president's support.

    The agents were ambushed near Unai as they investigated reports of forced labour on a black bean plantation owned by Manica's brother, Norberto, who is one of the world's top bean growers. Norberto remains in custody.

    Brazil's government estimates some 25,000 rural workers are forced to stay on isolated farms and work in slave-like conditions, often after incurring large debts. Human rights organisations say the figure could be much higher.
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