Actor Gerard Depardieu can be tried for rape, French court rules

A French court has rejected a bid by actor Gerard Depardieu to have rape charges against him dropped, the chief prosecutor in the case has said.

Actor Gerard Depardieu can be tried for rape, French court rules
Gerard Depardieu. (Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP)

The 73-year-old was charged with raping and sexually assaulting a young French actress at his home in Paris in 2018, an accusation he has called “baseless”.

But Paris chief prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement that there was “serious and confirmed evidence that justifies Gerard Depardieu to remain charged” in the case brought by the actress, Charlotte Arnould, who waived her right to anonymity in a tweet in December 2021.

The case will now go back to the prosecuting magistrate who is to resume her work on the case, Heitz said.

Arnould, who was present in the courtroom, declined to comment on the decision, but her lawyer, Carine Durrieu-Diebolt, told AFP that her client was “relieved”.

Depardieu’s lawyer, Herve Temime, had no comment.

Arnould filed her complaint against the actor in the summer of 2018 when she was 22, saying she had been raped twice by Depardieu in his Left Bank mansion in the capital a few days earlier.

The actor was charged in December 2020 and ordered to be placed under judicial supervision, but not jailed.

Depardieu became a star in France from the 1980s with roles in The Last Metro, Police and Cyrano de Bergerac, before Peter Weir’s Green Card also made him a Hollywood celebrity.

He later acted in global productions, including Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Netflix’s Marseille series.

In 2013, he sparked a huge outcry by leaving France and taking Russian nationality to protest a proposed tax hike on the rich in his homeland.

Depardieu, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, last week came out against the war in Ukraine and called for negotiations.

“I am against this fratricidal war. I say ‘stop the weapons and negotiate’,” Depardieu said.

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French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window ‘may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack’

An 89-year-old man who was pushed out of his 17th-storey window by a neighbour may have been killed because he was Jewish, a prosecutor said on Friday, after several shocking anti-Semitic murders in France in recent years.

French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window 'may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack'

The victim’s body was found at the foot of his building in Lyon, southeast France, on May 17th and the 51-year-old neighbour was arrested. But investigators did not initially charge him with a racist crime.

Last Sunday, the BNVCA anti-Semitism watchdog group said it would seek to be a plaintiff in the case, citing its similarity with the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old thrown from her window in a case that sparked national outcry.

“After social media postings were provided to us, the prosector’s office has asked judges to consider the aggravating circumstance of an act committed because of the victim’s ethnicity, nationality, race or religion,” Lyon prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet told AFP.

He did not provide examples of the posts, but Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer and commentator for CNews television, said on Wednesday on Twitter that the suspect had called out Goldnabel in messages, including one that told him to “remember your origins.”

“It’s no longer a question of telling us it’s the act of a mentally disturbed person. The truth of anti-Semitism must no longer be hidden,” Goldnadel wrote.

France has grappled with a sharp rise in violence targeting its roughly 500,000 Jews, the largest community in Europe, in addition to jihadist attacks in recent years.

The murder of Halimi drew particular outrage after the killer, who had shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic), avoided trial because a judge determined he was under the influence of drugs and not criminally responsible.

That prompted President Emmanuel Macron to seek a law change to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs, which was adopted in December 2021.

In 2018, 85-year-old Mireille Knoll was brutally stabbed in an attack by two men said to have been looking for “hidden treasures” in her Paris apartment.