Ex-leader of Brazilian landless activists arrested

June 16, 2011 - 2:59 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Federal police have arrested a former leader of Brazil's landless rural workers movement on suspicion of misusing public funds intended for the resettlement of families.

Police say in a news release that longtime activist Jose Rainha was arrested in rural Sao Paulo state. He was one of 10 suspects wanted in connection with the alleged misuse of public funds meant to support landless farming families waiting for land reform.

Officers also had warrants for local officials from the federal department for land reform, including the Sao Paulo state superintendent and two regional state coordinators.

Rainha maintains he still leads the national landless workers organization, but a spokesman for the group said he hasn't represented them for about five years.