Berlusconi tells supporters outside home in Rome he's innocent


Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacts during the presentation of Antonio Razzi's book "Le mie mani pulite" (My clean hands) on February 1, 2012 at the Italian parliament in Rome. The Clean Hands campaign was a judicial investigation into political corruption in the 1990s. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO



A more subdued yet caustic Silvio Berlusconi again attacked Italy's judicial system and proclaimed his innocence Sunday in an address before thousands of supporters rallying outside his Rome residence.

"I am innocent," he bellowed before a sea of flags, adding he feels a "duty" to stay in the political field.

More from GlobalPost: Not quite ciao, ciao Silvio

"I am here. I am staying here. I won't give up. We will continue together to fight this battle for democracy and freedom," the 76-year-old former Italian prime minister said in response to last week's ruling by Italy's high court confirming his guilt on tax fraud charges and resulting four-year jail term.

He also urged support for the shaky coalition of his center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party with the center-left Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

The request made it clear Berlusconi was in no rush to force a snap election as some of his hawkish supporters have demanded.

More from GlobalPost: Berlusconi claims 'harassment' after Italian court upholds prison sentence

Italy's supreme court on Thursday upheld a four-year jail sentence — commuted to one year — for the media mogul. It was the first definitive conviction he has suffered in dozens of trials since he became a political leader in 1994.

He's claimed leftist magistrates are trying to subvert democracy by forcing him off the political stage.

Berlusconi is expected to be allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest due to his age.

He also faced a five-year ban from public office — a punishment that could effectively end his domination of Italian politics.

The Court of Cassation decided to put that ban under judicial review.