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Paris prosecutors say Galliano to stand trial

March 2, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Fashion designer John Galliano was ordered by prosecutors on Wednesday to stand trial in the coming months over alleged racial insults.

The trial could take place between April and June. If convicted, Galliano could face up to six months in prison and be hit with $31,000 in fines, prosecutors in Paris said in a statement.

Prosecutors also said Galliano will face allegations of "public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" against three people.

It is illegal to make anti-Semitic remarks in France.

The pending trial news comes shortly after the 50-year-old designer apologized for his behavior after Christian Dior fired him as creative director over anti-Semitic comments.

On Monday, a video posted online showed Galliano drunkenly telling a café patron, "I love Hitler."

The video and the subsequent firing have sent shock waves through Paris Fashion Week, which began Tuesday.

"As an individual who is proud to be Jewish, will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way," said Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, one of Dior's spokesmodels.

In the statement Wednesday, Galliano said: "I completely deny the claims made against me and have fully cooperated with the police investigation" into the initial cafe case. But he said he fully accepts "that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people."

"I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures," he said. "In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion. That remains my guiding light."

For those in the fashion business, it's one more sad chapter in a steady decline of Galliano after the death four years ago of his longtime partner, Steven Robinson.

"When Steven died, you see this man unraveling slowly but surely to the point he becomes this pathetic person who sits in café alone at night next to his house, totally drunk, wasted and comes out with really ugly words that I'm sure he didn't know what he was saying," said Madeleine Czigier, a fashion journalist.

Fashionistas predicted no long-term consequences for the house of Dior.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.