Berlusconi to stay in politics despite conviction

ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi vowed on Wednesday to remain at the centre of Italian politics even if expelled from parliament because of a tax fraud conviction.

In an emotional television address, the billionaire media magnate launched a bitter attack on magistrates he said were perverting democracy and called for sweeping judicial reform. He also announced the relaunch of his original political party Forza Italia (Go Italy).

"I will always be with you, at your side, expelled from parliament or not. It is not the parliamentary seat that makes a leader," Berlusconi said in the pre-recorded speech. He made no mention of earlier threats to bring down Italy's fragile coalition government because of the conviction.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; editing By Barry Moody)

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