PARIS - Scandal-tainted Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, sentenced to a year in prison for tax fraud, claimed Thursday there would be a "revolution" in Italy if he was jailed.
The 77-year-old, who lost his parliamentary seat over a conviction for tax fraud earlier this year as well as his parliamentary protection from the law, told Europe 1 radio he was "not scared" of being imprisoned.
"I am sure they cannot do it, otherwise there will be a revolution in Italy," he said in an interview recorded at his house in Rome.
"I think it will be difficult to put me in prison: I will have a large majority in the next elections! And above all, as I am quite old, I am not scared of anything," he said.
Berlusconi has to serve a one-year sentence, probably under house arrest or through community service because of his age. But he faces imprisonment over other legal cases hanging over him.
The playboy politician, one of the country's richest men, also denied any plans to skip the country.
"I love my country. I cannot end my role of a patriot and a statesman by fleeing my country," he said.
Berlusconi said he remained the head of his party Forza Italia, or Go Italy, named after a chant used by Italian football fans.
"Now my supporters are saying they should be called Forza Silvio," he said.
Berlusconi risks a fresh trial after a Milan court accused him of corrupting witnesses in a sex case.
The latest accusations revolve around monthly sums paid to girls who testified that Berlusconi's parties were no more than innocent dinners.