Collor will seek proof of fraud

BRASILIA (AP) - President Fernando Collor de Mello's main legal adviser said yesterday that the President, in defending himself against impeachment, is demanding proof of the charges being made against him.

Mr Collor was preparing a written defence to corruption charges, said his attorney, Gilmar Mendes.

If the Chamber of Deputies denies the request, Mr Collor will ask the Supreme Court to delay the impeachment vote, which is scheduled to be held next Wednesday. 'The president's defence is beginning today,' Mr Mendes told reporters. 'We haven't seen the proof and don't know if evidence was falsified.'

The President's allies are desperately seeking to stall the vote until after nationwide municipal elections on 3 October, when legislators could face less pressure from constituents to vote against the unpopular leader.

A congressional report released last month claimed Collor received dlrs 6.5 million from Paulo Cesar Farias. The chief fundraiser for his campaign is accused of taking millions of dollars from businessmen who received government contracts.

The report is widely seen as irrefuteable, and surveys show that anti-Collor forces have enough votes to impeach.

But Mr Collor insists he will not step down until his term ends in 1995, and is attempting to buy the votes needed to remain in office by promising to fund pet projects.