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Berlusconi repeats he won't quit

Berlusconi repeats he won't quit
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi listens as U.S. President George W. Bush (not pictured) delivers remarks during a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on October 13, 2008. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

ROME, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday weekend protests by women throughout Italy won't force him to quit.

Berlusconi, 74, said he would remain the country's prime minister because he has not "betrayed the voters' mandate," and repeated his belief that investigations into allegations he used an underage prostitute were "shameful," Italian news agency ANSA reported.

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"It seemed to me to be a pretext to support a judicial theory that has nothing to do with reality," Berlusconi said on one of his Mediaset television stations channels following nationwide protests attended by more than a million people.

A judge is expected to announce a decision Tuesday on the Milan prosecutors' request that Berlusconi be sent to trial for having sex with a Moroccan belly dancer when she was 17 and abusing his power in having her released from police detention on an unrelated theft accusation.

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Berlusconi denies ever paying for sex with the alleged prostitute, Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby, or any other woman who attended parties at his home last year.

Protesters said the scandal indicates Berlusconi has little respect for women.

"Yesterday an important part of the Italian people was in the streets," Democratic Party Senate Whip Anna Finocchiaro said. "Finally, a sense of strong indignation is growing in a civil, peaceful and informed way at a government and a premier that are dishonoring Italy and isolating it in the world, as they are incapable of steering the country out of the crisis."

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Berlusconi has denied the accusations, saying Monday, "All the women who have met me know how much consideration and respect I have in my relations with them."

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