Galliano judged over unstylish outburst

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Fashion icon, drug addict and alcoholic John Galliano will learn Thursday whether he will be convicted and punished for a decidedly un-stylish alleged anti-Semitic rant.

Six months after he was sacked as the superstar chief designer at French fashion house Dior, the flamboyant 50-year-old Briton faces a fine or even a prison term over his reported drunken outbursts.

Once known for strutting onto the catwalk to steal the limelight at the end of his own shows, Galliano has chosen to avoid exposure on the last day of his trial, staying away and allowing his lawyers to hear the verdict.

But, while the hearing itself will be less of a media circus than his last court appearance, the fashion world is agog to learn if the fallen star will be condemned as a foul-mouthed bigot or allowed to rebuild a reputation.

Once one of the most celebrated designers of his generation, Galliano faces up to six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros ($32,000) if convicted -- although prosecutors asked the judges to apply only a 10,000 euro fine.

Galliano insists he is not an anti-Semite but admits he can not remember the evenings of October 8, 2010 and February 24, 2011 -- blaming a "triple addiction" to drink, sleeping pills and painkillers for his behaviour.

According to several witnesses, on those nights the designer subjected fellow patrons of the La Perle cafe in Paris' fashionable Marais district to streams of foul-mouthed and bigoted anti-Jewish and anti-Asian abuse.

He allegedly called one witness "a fucking ugly Jewish bitch".

Video footage of a third incident, posted online, shows Galliano declaring "I love Hitler" and telling a couple at the next table: "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."

Prosecutor Anne de Fontette accepted during the trial that Galliano "is not an ideologue of anti-Jewish or anti-Asian racism.

But, in a remark that must have stung the once cutting-edge couturier she branded the remarks "everyday racism and anti-Semitism, that of car parks and supermarkets, which is pitiful and disgusting."

The hearing is due to start at Paris' main criminal court at 1130 GMT, with the verdict coming shortly afterwards.

© 2011 AFP

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