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Berlusconi 'not worried' about trial

Berlusconi 'not worried' about trial
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev before their meeting at the Prefecture Palace in Milan July 23, 2010. UPI Photo/Alex Volgin.. | License Photo

ROME, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he's not worried about his trial on accusations he had sex with an underage prostitute and abused his power.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, said the independence of Italy's parliament is at stake after Berlusconi was indicted on the charges, with opposition leaders calling for the prime minister to quit, Italian news agency ANSA reported Wednesday.

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"I'm not going to talk about that. All I can say is that I'm not worried at all," Berlusconi said during a news conference when asked about the trial scheduled to begin in April.

Berlusconi, 74, and 18-year-old Moroccan Karima El Mahroug deny having sex when she was attending a party at one of his houses when she was 17. She said the money the media mogul gave her was a gift.

Berlusconi also is accused of using his influence with police to release Mahroug when she was detained on an unrelated theft charge. The prime minister said he contacted police to avoid a potential diplomatic incident because the girl told him she was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The prime minister has promised to punish prosecutors he describes as hostile, vowing to revive a wiretap bill that stalled in parliament.

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Justice Minister Angelino Alfano expressed his concerns about Italy's legislative branch after prosecutors requested the case be heard in a Milan court, despite Italy's lower house saying the case should be under the jurisdiction of a special court for ministers.

"This is an issue concerning the autonomy, sovereignty and independence of parliament," Alfano said.

Opposition parties repeated their demands that Berlusconi step aside, ASNA reported.

"We call for his resignation because the situation is unsustainable," said Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party, the largest opposition group.

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