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Designer convicted in hate speech case

Associated Press / September 9, 2011

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PARIS - John Galliano’s drunken anti-Semitic ravings cost him his job at Paris luxury house Christian Dior and gave him a criminal record but will not land him in jail, a Paris court ruled yesterday.

The court found Galliano guilty on two counts of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race, or ethnicity’’ - charges that carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison and fines of up to about $28,000.

But the three-magistrate panel showed leniency, sentencing the legendary designer to suspended fine of about $8,400, which means it goes on Galliano’s criminal record but he does not have to pay it. The court did not give Galliano prison time.

Presiding judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud said the magistrates’ leniency was in part due to the fact that the designer had apologized to the court and to the plaintiffs - who contended the designer showered them with a litany of racist and anti-Semitic insults in two separate run-ins at a Paris watering hole.

In testimony before the court in proceedings in June, Galliano said he did not recall anything about the spats and explained he had been under the influence of a “triple addiction’’ to alcohol, barbiturates, and sleeping pills.

Still, he added he was sorry for “the sadness that this whole affair has caused.’’

Lawyers for both sides welcomed yesterday’s ruling.

“It is a wise ruling,’’ Galliano lawyer Aurelien Hamelle said outside the courtroom. “Mr. Galliano is clearly relieved . . . and asked me to apologize for him once again.’’

Yves Beddouk, an attorney representing one of the plaintiffs, said his client, Geraldine Bloch, was “perfectly satisfied.’’

Although Galliano will not have to fork out any money in fines, he was ordered to pay about $23,000 in court fees for Bloch and two other plaintiffs, as well as five antiracism associations.

Although Galliano’s remarks would not be punishable in the United States, France has strict laws that are aimed at curbing anti-Semitic and racist language.

The laws were enacted in the decades after the Holocaust.

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