Police hunt Souza over missing woman

RIO DE JANEIRO - Police hunted for the goalkeeper of Brazil's most popular football team on Wednesday over the disappearance and possible murder of his ex-girlfriend in a case that has transfixed the football-crazed country.

Flamengo keeper Bruno Souza and a friend were ordered arrested late on Tuesday while public prosecutors investigate their suspected involvement in the disappearance of 25-year-old model Eliza Samudio last month.

Globo Television showed police cars arriving at Bruno's plush house near a Rio beach on Wednesday morning, but they did not find the goalkeeper or his friend Luiz Henrique Ferrera Romao, known as "Spaghetti".

"Bruno has fled," said Edson Moreira, police chief in Bruno's home city of Belo Horizonte, about 440 km (270 miles) north of Rio.

Samudio, 25, had filed a police complaint against Bruno last October, saying that she had been kidnapped, beaten up and forced to take medicine that would induce an abortion. She later gave birth to a baby she said was Bruno's.

Neither Bruno nor Romao have been charged.

Bruno, who like many Brazilian footballers is known by one name, has denied involvement in Samudio's disappearance in recent comments to media. Bruno's current partner was arrested in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday morning.

Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo is the league champion and by far Brazil's most popular club, its distinctive black-and-red striped shirts worn by Brazilians from the beaches of Rio to remote villages.

A police source told Reuters that Bruno's arrest was ordered after a 17-year-old cousin of the goalkeeper testified on Tuesday that he and Romao had kidnapped Samudio and driven her to Bruno's house in Belo Horizonte.

Romao's lawyer, Ercio Quaresma Firpe, was quoted by media as saying the cousin told police that Samudio's body had been fed to a rottweiler, although he described that possibility as "surreal."

Ties between Brazil's favorite sport and crime have been in the spotlight after Adriano, another Flamengo player and a former striker for the national team, came under investigation for alleged links to drug traffickers in Rio.

Adriano, who denied wrongdoing and has not been charged, is being investigated by prosecutors on suspicion of transferring thousands of dollars to a drug lord. He has since moved to Italy's Roma club.

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