Depardieu gets Belgian licence despite French drink-drive row
The celebrity soap opera revolving around larger-than-life French actor Gerard Depardieu took a fresh twist Tuesday with press reports that he had been given a Belgian driving licence despite missing a French drink-driving court date.
The latest bump in the road comes fresh after President Vladimir Putin's gift of a Russian passport and the offer of a political position in a Russian federal state -- all triggered by Depardieu's criticism of a punitive, disputed French tax on high earners.
The Belgian edition of French-language border daily Nord Eclair reported that the wine-drinking, football-loving star of "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Green Card" and the "Asterix & Obelix" series picked up the document in person on January 10 in the town of Estampuis, having recently bought a house in a neighbouring village.
The newspaper said he offered staff at the town hall several bottles of wine from vineyards he owns in the Loire Valley, although the local mayor, asked by AFP, said they were "very surprised to learn all of that in the press."
Daniel Senesael neither confirmed nor denied the story.
Belgian media claimed Depardieu, 64, could continue to drive with his Belgian licence even if French authorities revoke his permit after he was arrested in Paris in November having fallen off a scooter he was riding while three times over the legal alcohol limit.
Depardieu skipped a court appearance in Paris on January 8 to hold talks in Montenegro on a film in which he will play fallen former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The actor, whose many previous exploits include urinating in a bottle on a plane, said he had told French officials he would be absent.
© 2013 AFP