Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi today shrugged off the looming prostitution trial which could end his political career.
In his first public comments since being charged, Mr Berlusconi dodged questions about the case during a news conference on economic themes in Rome.
He said that he would not be speaking 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 was ordered yesterday to stand trial on charges he paid a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex, then used his influence to cover it up. The trial is set to begin on April 6.
Mr Berlusconi has dismissed the accusations as “groundless.”
The indictment was a serious challenge to his grip of power at a time when he is weakened by a split with an ex-ally.
It reignited calls for his resignation, with the opposition saying 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 Mr Berlusconi insisted today that he and his government ally, the Northern League party, are united and “determined to continue the legislature until its natural end.”
Mr Berlusconi was elected in 2008. The next parliamentary elections are due in 2013.