Berlusconi: Not worried about pending prostitution trial

08:19, February 17, 2011      

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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that he is not worried about his pending trial on charges he paid a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex.

Berlusconi, speaking at a news conference on economic themes in Rome with Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, dodged questions about the case in his first public comments since his indictment.

He said that he would not speak about the case "out of love of my country", but added: "I can only say one thing, I'm not worried at all."

The 74-year-old Italian leader was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges he paid the girl for sex, then used his influence to cover it up. The trial is set to begin on April 6.

Berlusconi denies wrongdoing. He has dismissed the accusations as "groundless."

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, Berlusconi's most important political ally, voiced support for the embattled premier during a coalition summit held Tuesday night.

"I' m with you, let's push on with reforms" Bossi said.

Berlusconi's indictment was a serious challenge to his grip on power at a time when the premier is weakened by a split with an ex-ally.

It reignited calls for Berlusconi's resignation, with the opposition contending the scandal, with revelations of allegedly wild parties at the premier's villas with scantily clad women, has embarrassed Italy and damaged its image abroad.

But Berlusconi insisted Wednesday that he and the Northern League are united and "determined to continue the legislature until its natural end."

Berlusconi was elected in 2008. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled in 2013.

Source: Xinhua

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