European court hears appeal from Italy's Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi says he's hopeful the European Court of Human Rights will agree that Italy violated his rights by barring him from public office, but says he'll participate in Italy's upcoming electoral campaign regardless.

Berlusconi has emerged from the political shadows in the run-up to the Strasbourg-based court's first hearing of his appeal Wednesday. A decision isn't expected for months.

Berlusconi has asked Italy's president to delay holding elections until late spring in hopes that the court will render a decision allowing him to run on his Forza Italia ticket.

Berlusconi told La Repubblica: "I hope the court quickly takes my appeal. But my role in the next campaign is clear: Independent of my ability to run, I will be campaigning for the center right to lead the country."