Designer Galliano Fined for anti-Semitism

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PARIS - A Paris court found John Galliano guilty on two counts of "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" on Thursday following a drunken anti-Semitic rant by the designer last February.

Although the charges carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison and fines of up to 20,000 euros, the three-magistrate panel showed leniency, sentencing the designer to an $8,400 suspended fine.

John GallianoCredit: AP

Presiding judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud said the magistrates' clemency was in part due to the fact that the designer had apologized to the court and the plaintiffs - who contended the designer showered them with a litany of racist and anti-Semitic insults in two separate run-ins at a Paris bar on February 24. He was captured on video slurring the words "I love Hitler."

In testimony before the court in June, Galliano said he didn't recall anything about the spats and explained he had been under the influence of a "triple addiction" to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills. He added he was sorry for "the sadness that this whole affair has caused."

Lawyers for both sides welcomed Thursday's ruling. "It is a wise ruling," Galliano lawyer Aurelien Hamelle said. "Mr. Galliano is clearly relieved ... and asked me to apologize for him once again." Galliano "is looking forward to a future of forgiveness and understanding, hopefully, and to put all of this behind him."

Yves Beddouk, an attorney representing one of the plaintiffs, Geraldine Bloch, said his client was "perfectly satisfied."

Galliano was also ordered to pay $23,200 in court fees for Bloch and two other plaintiffs, as well as five anti-racism associations. The court also ordered him to pay a symbolic $1.40 in damages to each.

Although Galliano's remarks would not be punishable in the U.S., France has strict laws aimed at curbing anti-Semitic and racist language.

Galliano did not attend Thursday's ruling, and Judge Sauteraud explained his absence as an attempt to keep him out of the media spotlight.