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Galliano found guilty in anti-Semitism trial

AFP · 8 Sep 2011, 14:01

Published: 08 Sep 2011 14:01 GMT+02:00

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Fashion icon John Galliano was Thursday convicted of anti-Semitism for hurling abuse at bar patrons in Paris' Jewish quarter in a career-breaking outburst he has blamed on drink and drugs.

But the 50-year-old British designer, who faced a maximum of six months in jail in the French trial, received a much lower sentence with suspended fines totalling €6,000 ($8,400).  

The designer, who was sacked in disgrace as creative head of the French couture house Christian Dior over the scandal, stayed away from Thursday's hearing, leaving his lawyers to hear the verdict.  

The Paris criminal court found him guilty of proferring anti-Semitic insults in a public place -- an offence under French law -- when he clashed with bar patrons in the capital's Marais district on two occasions, in February this year and October 2010.  

The court also ordered him to pay a symbolic euro in damages to each of his victims, as well as to five anti-racism groups that were plaintiffs in the case. He was also ordered to cover the legal costs of four anti-racism bodies.  

At his one-day trial in July, Galliano apologised for his conduct.  

Galliano insists he is not an anti-Semite but admits he can not remember the evenings in question, blaming a "triple addiction" to drink, sleeping pills and painkillers for his behaviour.  

According to several witnesses, the designer subjected fellow patrons of the La Perle cafe in Paris' fashionable Marais district to streams of foul-mouthed anti-Jewish and anti-Asian abuse.  

He allegedly called one witness "a fucking ugly Jewish bitch" -- after mocking her "cheap boots" and insulting her figure.  

Video footage of a third incident, posted online, shows Galliano declaring "I love Hitler" and telling a couple at the next table: "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."  

Prosecutor Anne de Fontette accepted during the trial that Galliano "is not an ideologue of anti-Jewish or anti-Asian racism."  

But, in a remark likely to have stung the couturier, she branded the remarks "everyday racism and anti-Semitism, that of car parks and supermarkets, which is pitiful and disgusting." 

The designer told the court he had since undergone two months of rehab in Arizona and Switzerland.  

One of the most celebrated designers of his generation, Galliano had been at the creative helm of Dior for 15 years, as well as running his own label, until the outburst brought his career crashing to a halt.  

While Thursday's hearing was less of a media circus than his last court appearance, the fashion world was waiting to know if the fallen star would be condemned as a bigot or allowed to rebuild a reputation.  

Story continues below…

Christian Dior, which has taken its time finding a successor to Galliano, has firmly distanced itself from the designer and declined to comment on the trial.  

For last March's ready-to-wear collections, Dior tasked Galliano's longtime right-hand man Bill Gaytten to oversee a show inspired by everything from early 1980s Paris nightlife to the architect Frank Gehry.  

But with the Spring-Summer 2012 fashion season kicking off this month, Dior was reportedly poised to announce a successor -- with America's hottest designer, the kilt-wearing, tattooed Marc Jacobs, tipped for the job.  

Since 1997, the 48-year-old New Yorker has held the helm of Louis Vuitton, the flagship fashion brand of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) luxury giant, which is owned in turn by Groupe Christian Dior.

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