Depardieu says ready to appear before French court

8th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

French movie star Gerard Depardieu, who spurned a Paris court appearance Tuesday for drunk driving and instead went to Montenegro, said he was ready to face justice anytime.

"I fled neither from the court, nor from justice," Depardieu told reporters after meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

Depardieu said that his "trip to Montenegro had already been planned.

"I informed the court, I never fled.... I am ready to appear when they want, on the condition that I am there and that I can defend myself," the French star said.

The 64-year-old actor was arrested in Paris in November after falling off a scooter he was riding while three times over the legal alcohol limit.

He has already pleaded guilty to driving his scooter while intoxicated and was due to be sentenced Tuesday.

If he had turned up in court, he would likely have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his licence.

But the no-show means the hulking actor -- who has been embroiled in a bitter tax row with the government that saw him take Russian nationality and angrily vow to quit France -- will now be tried by a criminal court and could get up to two years in jail.

Depardieu however insisted that the case has already been "settled".

"This has already been settled, the justice (system) in France and my lawyers have informed me that all is fine," he said.

He said he was not a "criminal, I've slipped with my scooter, I fell asleep, that's it.

"I had a low level of alcohol in (my) blood as I had a salad with a drop more of vinegar and it was over the limit," he said jokingly.

"This issue is settled, all is fine and I can return to France and there will be no problems."

Depardieu arrived in Montenegro earlier Tuesday, visiting its Adriatic coast and historic capital Cetinje.

Later in the evening he was due to attend a dinner in his honour organised by Djukanovic.

Depardieu hit the headlines in December when he bought a house just over the border in Belgium after accusing the French socialist government of punishing "success, creativity and talent" with allegedly excessive taxes.

Amid the row, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally granted him Russian citizenship.

© 2013 AFP

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