Berlusconi to lead political backers in Italy protest rally to protest tax fraud conviction

Silvio Berlusconi will lead his political party in a rally to protest his tax fraud conviction, which carries a prison sentence and a ban from public office.

The four-year prison term for Italy's former premier and the five-year ban, which were handed down by a Milan appeals court Wednesday, will take effect only if another appeals tribunal — Italy's highest Court of Cassation — upholds the verdict. That decision could take months or more.

Meanwhile, the media mogul is gearing up for a rally Saturday in the northern city of Brescia. He insists he is innocent and says the many criminal cases against him are the work of his political enemies.

On Thursday, his People of Freedom Party, a government coalition partner, announced the rally "in defense" of Berlusconi.