(CBS/AP) Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi downplayed the effects an impending prostitution trial may have on his government and political career, saying Wednesday that he's not worried.
It was the first public comment by the 74-year-old leader since he was indicted Tuesday on charges he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, nicknamed "Ruby Heartbreaker," and then used his influence to cover it up.
"Out of love of my country, I won't talk about this," Berlusconi told reporters. "I can only say one thing: I'm not worried at all."
Berlusconi has previously been in court for a number of business-related charges, but on April 6 Berlusconi will be tried for the first time on personal conduct charges.
Prosecutors allege Berlusconi paid for sex with the Moroccan nightclub dancer, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained for an unrelated suspected theft of 3,000 euro ($4,103). They allege that Berlusconi called police the night of May 27-28 last year because he feared that their relationship would be revealed.
Paying for sex with a prostitute is not a crime in Italy, unless the prostitute is under the age of 18.
Both Berlusconi and Ruby - who has since turned 18 - have denied having sexual relations, although she has said Berlusconi gave her 7,000 euro ($9,550) on their first meeting.
Judge Cristina Di Censo handed down the indictment with a terse statement that showed she believes there is enough evidence to subject Berlusconi to an immediate trial, as prosecutors had requested. The trial will be heard by a panel of three judges, all of them women, who were picked at random.
The child prostitution charge carries a possible prison sentence of six months to three years. The abuse of influence charge, which experts say is more dangerous for Berlusconi, carries a possible sentence of four to 12 years. Berlusconi could be barred permanently from public office if convicted of abusing his influence.