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PARIS — John Galliano is to stand trial in a French criminal court on a charge of public insult after three people filed complaints alleging the designer hurled racist and anti-Semitic remarks at them, according to the prosecutor’s office here.
Galliano’s case is expected to be heard during the second quarter.
The penalty in France for insult against people due to their origin, belonging or not belonging to a religion, race or ethnicity is six months imprisonment and a fine of 22,500 euros, or $31,207 at current exchange, according to the prosecutor.
News of the trial came only hours after Galliano broke his silence over the scandal that cost him his job as Christian Dior’s couturier. In it, he apologized “unreservedly” and vowed to fight to clear his name and reputation in the face of accusations of anti-Semitic and racist outbursts. At the same time, he continued to deny the charges against him.
“Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offence,” Galliano said in a statement released by the London law firm Harbottle & Lewis.
Dior initially suspended Galliano from his duties on Friday and then ousted him on Tuesday amidst the mounting allegations and an explosive video depicting the maverick designer saying in a slurred voice, “I love Hitler.” Dior condemned the statements made in the video and commenced termination procedures.
Galliano, a London-born wunderkind who was the creative architect of Dior’s rejuvenation, has been its couturier since 1996.
The house still intends to go ahead with its fashion show, scheduled for Friday. It is understood the company is unlikely to address the issue of a successor to Galliano for some time.
As reported, Galliano was summoned by the Paris public prosecutor on Monday to talk with Géraldine Bloch and her companion, Philippe Virgiti, who filed charges last Thursday following an incident that night at La Perle cafe, where the designer is alleged to have hurled anti-Semitic, racial and other insults at them.
Police sources said Galliano, who was briefly detained after the incident, was inebriated, with an alcohol reading of 1.01 milligrams per liter of exhaled air.
Galliano claimed he never uttered any racist or anti-Semitic slurs, furnished witness statements to back his case and subsequently filed a claim of defamation, insult and menace against Bloch and Virgiti.
A second, separate complaint was filed to Paris police by a woman, who has yet to be identified, on Saturday. It concerns an incident that reportedly also took place at La Perle in October, during which Galliano allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks.
On Wednesday, Galliano stressed he fully cooperated with the police investigation, and remained silent until now on the advice of his French lawyer.
“However, given the continuing delays at the French prosecutor’s office, I should make myself clear,” he said. “I was subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair, having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing. For these reasons, I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me. However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.”