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Political rally in Italy to protest Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction draws cheers and jeers

Political supporters of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi are rallying in a northern Italian city to protest the media mogul's recent conviction by a Milan appeals court for tax fraud.

Thousands of backers turned out for the "Everyone for Silvio" rally in a square outside the cathedral in Brescia. As some arrived, detractors shouted "jail, jail" and police in riot gear came between the noisy camps to prevent any violence.

The appellate court also upheld a four-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from political office. Berlusconi will appeal to a higher court and currently serves in Parliament.

He has long blamed his many criminal cases on prosecutors he accuses of siding with the left. Detractors say his former governments made laws tailor-made to help his judicial woes.