French magistrates probe Galliano anti-semitism charge

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French prosecutors were examining conflicting testimony on Tuesday before deciding whether or not to charge British fashion designer John Galliano with anti-Semitic and abusive behaviour.

A judicial source told AFP that magistrates would study statements made by a couple and a woman who accuse the couturier of subjecting them to drunken and insulting rants in a fashionable cafe near his Paris home.

Galliano denies the charge and has lodged a complaint for defamation, but the 50-year-old designer's employer Dior has suspended him pending the result of the inquiry and a video has surfaced of him launching a similar tirade.

The official said prosecutors expect to announce later on Tuesday whether any charges would emerge from the inquiry. "Either the probe will lead to prosecutions or it won't, but we'll soon know," he said.

On Tuesday, police interviewed Galliano and his accusers: a couple who allege he insulted and threatened them last week in La Perle, a cafe in Paris' fashionable Marais district, and woman who said he abused her last year.

While other witnesses have confirmed that the couple had a fierce dispute with Galliano in La Perle on Thursday night, no independent source is thought to have confirmed that he used anti-Semitic language.

But his defence has been weakened -- at least in terms of public opinion if not judicially -- by a video published on the internet by the British daily The Sun in which he is seen abusing another couple, again in La Perle.

"I love Hitler," a visibly drunk Galliano declares. "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."

Dior's 2011 autumn-winter collection will be unveiled as planned at a Paris Fashion Week catwalk show on Friday, without Galliano, whose flamboyant rock star poses usually mark the climax of the house's presentations.

© 2011 AFP

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