• France's news in English
 

Depardieu to face drink-driving charges

Published: 08 Jan 2013 09:12 GMT+01:00

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.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France eyes boost to holiday leave rights
People enjoy the sun by the seaside on a beach in the French Mediterranean resort of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France. Photo: AFP

France eyes boost to holiday leave rights

Most new employees at French firms have to work for at least a year before they can take paid holidays but that could be about to change if one group of MPs have their way. READ  

Migrant electrocuted on Eurostar train in Paris
The man was electrocuted at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. Photo: Hugh Llewelyn/Flickr)

Migrant electrocuted on Eurostar train in Paris

A migrant was electrocuted on Wednesday while on the top of the roof of a London-bound Eurostar train at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. READ  

Calais migrants' crisis
Calais chaos sees France beef up police presence
Police and migrants in a standoff near the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. Photo: AFP

Calais chaos sees France beef up police presence

After 1,500 desperate migrants tried to enter England through the Channel Tunnel on Tuesday night, French authorities have sent an extra 120 police officers to Calais. READ  

French firefighters called in for rogue python
The snake, a ball python, was taken away by the fire brigade. File photo: Batwrangler/Flickr

French firefighters called in for rogue python

Firefighters had to be called in to an apartment block in southern France after rattled residents found a python on the loose in the lobby. READ  

Disneyland Paris rejects overcharging claims
Taking the Mickey? Does Disneyland overcharge foreign customers? Photo: CetusCetus/Flickr

Disneyland Paris rejects overcharging claims

UPDATED: Disneyland Paris on Wednesday denied allegations that it overcharges customers from certain countries a day after the European Commission said it had launched a probe. READ  

French dating sites 'not protecting client privacy'
Users of online dating sites hand over data on everything from political beliefs to sexual preferences. File photo: AFP

French dating sites 'not protecting client privacy'

French dating sites have been taken to task for not doing enough to protect "intimate" data provided by their clients. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
France's Platini to stand for Fifa presidency
Will Michel Platini replace Sepp Blatter as the head of Fifa? Photo: AFP

France's Platini to stand for Fifa presidency

UPDATED: Uefa boss Michel Platini is to stand as a candidate for the presidency of world football's governing body, Fifa, Uefa announced on Wednesday. READ  

Fêtes de Bayonnes
The Bayonne festival: France's wildest party
Festival goers in Bayonne - a sea of red and white. Photo: AFP

The Bayonne festival: France's wildest party

One of France's most famous festivals kicks off on Wednesday and promises to be as wild and raucous as ever. We take a closer look at the Fêtes de Bayonne to find out why everyone needs to go at least once. READ  

France and Iran
Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris
French president François Hollande seen here shaking hands with Hassan Rohani. Photo: AFP

Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris

French president François Hollande has invited his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to visit Paris in November in what would be an historic trip if the invitation is accepted. READ  

Birkin: 'Take my name off Hermes crocodile bag'
Jane Birkin and one of the Birkin Croco handbags. Photo: AFP

Birkin: 'Take my name off Hermes crocodile bag'

British singer Jane Birkin has asked the French luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag after learning of the "cruel" methods used to make the iconic accessory. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
What's on in France: Ten things to do in August
Features
What to see and do at the Paris Plages this summer
Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
Take a closer look at the 560,000-year-old tooth found in France
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
National
'B**ch' and 'brainless': French shop slurs clients
Travel
French cops rebel over order to give kids sweets
National
New measures to stop migrant deaths in Calais
Travel
Here are some of the most ridiculous comments you'll read about France
Features
Life may be about to get easier for expats settling in France
National
Burning tyres and blocking roads is just the way the French do strikes
National
Muslim tourists visiting French Alps are reminded of burqa ban
Opinion
Slim and chic: Are French women fed up of the stereotypes?
French officials defend handing public beach over to Saudi royals
Society
French kiss: Should expats in France do 'la bise' among themselves?
National
Paris commuters and tourists face summer of travel trouble
This man learnt the entire French vocabulary in nine weeks, but why?
French speed cameras snare tens of thousands of British drivers
Gallery
What kind of expat in France are you: A lover or a loather?
Society
French tweeters reveal the trials and tribulations of #GrowingupFrench
Where to find the best (and worst) quality of life in France
National
Riviera rumpus as Saudi royals grab public beach all for themselves
What we know about France's foiled terror plot
Features
Here are ten places in Paris where you can escape the summer heat
National
Coup d'état fails in France after being snubbed by military
Are shoppers in northern France the most honest in the world?
French woman fined €90 for driving in flip-flops
Cyclists in Paris get the green light to jump red
'Adieu France': Angry mum's parting rant goes viral
Franco-German rift opens over Greece and it could take time to heal
The Megavalanche: The most spectacular cycling event in France
Ex-French PM's daughter creates a buzz by going topless for photo shoot
Could Parisians be bathing in the Seine by 2024?
Paris unveils new mobile app to help non-French speakers
France declares war on public transport sex pests
So where's the best place to live in France if you want to be happy?
Opinion
Paris: The City of Light, Romance, Style and the worst loos in Europe?
National
Eight ways living in France will change your lifestyle for good
International
Why French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Ten ideas that could improve the quality of life in Paris
National
Rules for taking selfies at the Eiffel Tower: No.1 Keep your clothes on
National
Paris's trendy Canal Saint-Martin is now more tip than hip
National
Westeros is coming: Paris to welcome Game of Thrones exhibition
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,582
jobs available