Published: 08 Jan 2013 09:12 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 08 Jan 2013 09:12 GMT+01:00
French actor Gérard Depardieu is to face drunk driving charges in a Paris court on Tuesday amid a high-profile tax row that has seen him get a Russian passport and vow to quit France.
Depardieu, whose flight into tax exile has embarrassed French President François Hollande as he seeks to impose a 75-percent upper income tax, is to appear for sentencing after admitting to the charge.
He was detained in the French capital in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been riding while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.
No one was injured and, having admitted the offence, he is expected to escape with a fine and penalty points on his driving licence.
He is due to appear before prosecutors at 0830 GMT and later before a judge, but it was not clear whether Depardieu would deign to show up.
On Monday the court refused Depardieu's request to postpone the hearing for a second time, his lawyer Eric de Caumont said, adding that the actor's presence at the hearing was not certain. A failure to appear could lead to a criminal court hearing.
The 64-year-old "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Green Card" and "Asterix & Obelix" star was due in Paris after attending one of football's top award ceremonies, the Ballon d'Or, in Switzerland on Monday, and spending the weekend in Russia.
Speaking to French television from Zurich, Depardieu insisted he was still French.
"I have a Russian passport, but I am French and will certainly have dual Belgian citizenship," he said, claiming to be a "citizen of the world".
Depardieu was given a rapturous welcome in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin personally awarded him a Russian passport.
Putin's move was the latest volley in a highly publicised row between Depardieu and the French government over its attempt to raise the tax rate on earnings of more than one million euros ($1.3 million) to 75 percent.
When Depardieu first announced he would leave the country to avoid the tax, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded the move "pathetic" – prompting the actor to threaten to give up his French citizenship.
France's top constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, struck down the tax rate on December 29, but French authorities have vowed to push ahead with the tax.
Hollande, who defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency in May, is struggling to balance France's budget amid a stagnant economy and rising unemployment.
Hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Depardieu has in recent years become as famed for his erratic behaviour as for his acting talents.
In August, he was cautioned after punching a car driver who had forced him to swerve on his scooter, and in 2011 he generated global headlines when he tried to urinate in a bottle aboard a plane as it prepared to take off from Paris for Dublin.
Some experts said Depardieu's recent behaviour would almost certainly have an impact on his career.
"It is going to hurt him because it's getting to be a lot," said Virginie Spies, a media analyst at the University of Avignon. "I wouldn't have said that two or three days ago, but after Russia, it's getting complicated."
But others said the French public had become accustomed to Depardieu's antics and would continue to support him at the box office.
Depardieu is "a great ham, always excessive. Ridicule does not kill, it will not kill him professionally", said Alain Grasset, film critic for newspaper Le Parisien.
Depardieu has "a lot of film projects to come. He is very sought after, omnipresent. Cinema cannot do without him," Grasset said.
A proposal to introduce more courses in English and other foreign languages at French universities is set to be debated in parliament from Wednesday amid concerns it will undermine the country's soul and identity. READ () »
A 48-year-old divorced Briton locked in a bitter custody battle confessed on Sunday that he had killed his two young children by slitting their throats near the eastern French city of Lyon. READ () »
As Carlo Ancelotti paid fulsome tribute to the retiring David Beckham the Paris Saint Germain manager revealed an announcement on his own future may be imminent. READ () »
France's disgraced former budget minister, forced out of office over a tax fraud scandal, will not seek re-election to his former parliamentary seat, a newspaper reported Sunday. READ () »
Spain's world championship leader Marc Marquez will start on pole in Sunday's French MotoGP on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans after coming out on top in Saturday's qualifying. READ () »
A man was arrested on Friday after causing a scare at the Cannes Film Festival, where he attacked a TV studio with a gun loaded with blanks and a dummy grenade, police and witnesses said. READ () »
French actor and newly-minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu on Saturday compared President Vladimir Putin to the late Pope John Paul II and said the ex-KGB agent is what Russia needs as a leader. READ () »
France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage Saturday after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate. READ () »
Struggling French oyster farmers, whose haul has diminished in recent years, are set to receive some much needed help from their Swedish counterparts, by importing oyster spats from Sweden for the first time. READ () »
France's highest court the Constitutional Council cleared the divisive gay marriage bill on Friday, paving the way for same sex unions to become legal. Francois Hollande said he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday. READ () »