Michael Jackson has released a video to American TV news networks protesting his innocence on the eve of jury selection for his upcoming child molestation trial.

Dressed in a blue shirt and looking pale and drawn, the troubled pop superstar calls for his trial to be fair and insists he'll be acquitted.

Speaking directly into a camera, Jackson says, "I love my community and I have great faith in our justice system. Please keep an open mind and let me have my day in court.

"I deserve a fair trial like every other American citizen. I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told."

He also uses the interview to blast media leaks in the case.

Jackson states, "In the last few weeks, a large amount of ugly, malicious information has been released into the media about me. The information is disgusting and false."

The pop star insists this latest molestation allegation has made him realise he can no longer be over-friendly with children.

He explains, "I never intend to place myself in so vulnerable a position ever again."

Jury selection begins today (31JAN05) and could last up to a month as lawyers screen as many as 750 prospective jurors. The trial itself could take five more months.

31/01/2005 02:33