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Collor a step closer to the edge

BRASILIA (Reuter, AFP) - The attorney-general of Brazil, Aristides Junqueira, said he had found indications linking President Fernando Collor de Mello to 'criminal acts' by members of his government. His finding is a further blow to Mr Collor's efforts to avoid impeachment.

Mr Junqueira said in a legal writ to the Supreme Court that Mr Collor was implicated in the charges of widespread corruption in his administration. A congressional inquiry has accused Mr Collor of benefiting from an influence-peddling racket run by his former campaign treasurer, Paulo Cesar Farias. The President denies any wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court is to rule next week on the President's legal challenges to the impeachment procedures being initiated by the lower house of Congress, which will vote on 29 or 30 September on whether to open a formal impeachment trial in the Senate and suspend Mr Collor from office for 180 days. Mr Junqueira's writ also recommended that the lower house impeachment vote should be public, rather than secret as Mr Collor's supporters have sought.

Public opinion has turned strongly against Mr Collor, who was elected in 1990 on an anti-corruption platform. Demonstrators filled the city centres of Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba on Tuesday to demand impeachment. Many were wearing the black clothes that have become a symbol of opposition to Mr Collor.