Berlusconi slams sex trial verdict, insists innocent

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi hit out at his conviction by a Milan court on Monday for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office, insisting he was "utterly innocent" and accusing the judges of persecution.

"I was truly convinced I would be absolved because there was absolutely no possibility of being found guilty based on the evidence," he said, after he was sentenced to seven years in jail and banned for life from holding public office.

"I intend to resist the persecution because I am absolutely innocent and I don't want to abandon my fight to make Italy a truly free and just country," he said.