Berlusconi tells thousands he is innocent

Associated Press + More

ROME (AP) — A defiant Silvio Berlusconi has told a cheering crowd of thousands that he is innocent of tax fraud despite a ruling by Italy's high court confirming his guilt and four-year jail term.

Berlusconi told supporters Sunday that he would not resist criticizing the judges who made the ruling last week, and declared: "I will say to my so-called judges: I am innocent."

Berlusconi says he continues to support the coalition government of Enrico Letta. He says "we have said loud and clear that the government needs to continue" in order to approve economic measures to help Italy out of recession.

Thousands of supporters bussed in from throughout Italy waved printed signs and cheered Berlusconi.

Berlusconi says the last few days were "the most anguished and painful of my life."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.