John Galliano to attend anti-Semitic trial

Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:40am EDT
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By Nick Vinocur

PARIS (Reuters) - Fashion designer John Galliano will attend in person his trial on Wednesday over charges he hurled anti-Semitic insults at customers in a cafe in a series of outbursts that have wrecked a towering career.

Galliano, 50, was fired as creative director for fashion empire Dior in March after a video surfaced online showing him, apparently inebriated, telling a woman he "loved Hitler" and that her parents might have been gassed in a Nazi death camp.

The video, filmed in December, sent shockwaves through the fashion world as complaints surfaced over two separate incidents of alleged anti-Semitic slurs by the British designer, which will be dealt with at Wednesday's trial.

If found guilty Galliano faces up to 22,000 euros ($31,500) in fines and a six-month prison sentence, people close to the case said.

The designer, who has been treated since his dismissal from Dior for multiple substance abuse problems, is to appear at the trial and testify that he is neither a racist nor an anti-Semite but an addict who lost control of his words, his lawyer said.

"One obvious thing is that John Galliano was ill," lawyer Aurelien Hamelle told Reuters.

"He had a triple addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepine (Valium) and sleeping pills ... The combined effect of these drugs is a state of complete and utter abandon."

Under pressure to turn a profit at Dior while also managing his own fashion label, Galliano fell deeper into addiction until he was drinking heavily, ingesting Valium tranquilizer pills "like candy" and using sleeping pills regularly, Hamelle said.   Continued...