Designer Galliano on trial for drunk anti-Semitic insults, facing up to $32K in fines, jail

Former Christian Dior designer John Galliano arrives at the Paris court house, June 22, 2011.
AP Photo/Thibault Camus
Former Christian Dior designer John Galliano arrives at the Paris court house, June 22, 2011.
AP Photo/Thibault Camus

(CBS/AP) Paris - Once beloved Dior designer John Galliano is facing a hefty fine of up to $32,000 for spewing anti-Semitic slurs in a Paris cafe, but no prison sentence is being sought.

During his one-day trial Wednesday, Galliano, the now-dismissed Dior designer, testified that he remembers nothing of the incident due to a "triple addiction" to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.

Galliano did apologize for a different anti-Semitic rant of his captured on video, posted on the internet and shown to the courts. The troubled designer said these are not his views but reflect instead "the shell of John Galliano...someone who needs help."

The 50-year-old designer is charged with "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity," a crime which can mean up to six months in prison and up to 22.500 euro ($32,175) in fines.

Prosecutors in France have asked that Galliano be made to pay no less than a 10,000 euro ($14,400) fine and a verdict is expected in September. The prosecution is not seeking a prison sentence.

A couple contends that Galliano made anti-Semitic comments to them in a cafe in February. Galliano was taken in by police for questioning, and a sobriety test showed he was drunk.

Another woman then came forward with similar claims about another incident in the same cafe last October. Both accusations were being addressed at Wednesday's trial.

Days after the February incident, a video was broadcast on the website of the British tabloid The Sun showing an inebriated Galliano insulting a fellow cafe client, slurring: "I love Hitler."

French law prohibits public insults toward others because of their origins, race or religion.

"All my life I've fought against prejudice and intolerance and discrimination because I have been subjected to it myself," Galliano said in court. "I apologize for the sadness that this affair has caused and I apologize to the court as well."

Galliano told the court Wednesday that as his workload at Christian Dior, and at his small signature John Galliano label increased, he sought refuge in pills and alcohol.

Charges against the outspoken British designer shocked the fashion world and cost Galliano his job at Dior where he had worked for 14 years.

After joining the company in 1996, Galliano made an indelible mark on the storied house, with theatrical, often outrageous, runway shows that were among the most-anticipated displays on the Paris fashion calendar.