MILAN — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy made a rare court appearance yesterday, greeting throngs of supporters gathered outside the courthouse after a closed-door hearing in a tax fraud case he has dismissed as groundless.
Berlusconi waved to reporters from inside a black sedan as he arrived at the courthouse tightly guarded by 100 riot police. After the two-hour hearing, he emerged briefly from the car on his way out to thank hundreds of supporters waiting outside.
“Thank you, thank you all,’’ Berlusconi told cheering supporters who waved Italian flags and banners bearing his party emblem. “It all went fine.’’
Across the street, a much smaller group booed and called for his resignation.
Berlusconi did not address the court during the closed-door hearing dedicated to technical matters, reserving his comments on the case for an on-air phone call to one of his television stations.