Galliano faces anti-Semitism accusations in Paris
Monday, February 28, 2011; 3:20 PM
PARIS -- Fashion designer John Galliano faced his accusers at a local Paris police station Monday, a couple who claim he made anti-Semitic slurs - illegal in France - after a video emerged of the famed creator praising Adolf Hitler.
The hearing was closed to the public, but a police officer who had knowledge of it said of Galliano: "He denied all the accusations against him." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
Also testifying were Galliano's chauffeur and an employee of The Perle, the trendy cafe in Paris where the insults were allegedly made, the official said, but both reported they did not hear any anti-Semitic or racist remarks there.
Christian Dior has suspended Galliano, its creative director, pending an investigation, citing its "zero-tolerance" policy on anti-Semitism. The fashion house is scheduled to present its fall-winter 2011-2012 ready-to-wear show on Friday as part of Paris fashion week.
The Paris prosecutor's office was expected to decide, possibly on Tuesday, what follow-up there may be.
French officials said a hospital test showed Galliano had 1.1 milligrams of alcohol per liter of blood, more than twice the legal limit to drive in France, after the incident Thursday reported by the couple as he sat alone sipping a mojito.
The long-haired Gibraltar-born designer, wearing a wide-brimmed black hat and earring, made no comment to reporters as he entered and left the police station.
During Monday's hearing, a 47-year-old woman also testified. She had filed a complaint against Galliano on Saturday claiming that she was insulted in a similar fashion by the designer at The Perle about four months ago, according to a police official.
Galliano's lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, was dismissive of this accuser.
"We're surprised by this new complaint which exactly resembles the first ones. It's not by chance," Zerbib said. "It's surprising that this person had not shown herself since October."
On Monday, a video posted on the website of British daily The Sun showed Galliano arguing with a couple at La Perle. It was unclear when the video was recorded, but in it, he was dressed differently than on Thursday. At one point in the video, starting in mid-conversation, a woman's voice asks Galliano, "Are you blond, with blue eyes?"
Galliano, speaking in slurred speech, replied: "No, but I love Hitler, and people like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would be ... gassed and ... dead."
The newspaper said neither of the people speaking with Galliano were Jewish.
Zerbib, Galliano's lawyer, said he didn't know when the video was filmed, and "there's no comment on that. ... What matters isn't what's on the Internet, what matters are the testimonies and the hearings."
"What's on the Internet doesn't have much value," Zerbib said.
Making anti-Semitic remarks can bring up to six months in prison. Some public figures have been convicted on such charges in the past, but are usually given only suspended sentences.
The lawyer didn't veer from comments made to The Associated Press on Friday that Galliano "never made an anti-Semitic remark in more than 10 years at Dior." Zerbib said the designer has filed a countersuit against them for alleged defamation, threats and insults.