- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PARIS (AP) - Former Dior designer John Galliano took the stand Wednesday and testified that he remembers nothing about allegedly using anti-Semitic slurs at a Paris cafe because of his “triple addiction” to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.

The 50-year-old designer apologized for spouting an anti-Semitic diatribe in a separate incident captured in video, posted on the Internet and shown to the court, saying these are not his views but reflect instead “the shell of John Galliano … someone who needs help.”

Prosecutor Anne de Fontette did not request jail time for Galliano, asking instead for a fine of no less than euro10,000 ($14,400) for Galliano. The verdict in the one-day trial is due Sept. 8.

Charges that the outspoken British designer insulted several patrons of the cafe in the trendy Marais district with anti-Semitic remarks shocked the fashion world and cost Galliano his job at the renowned French high-fashion house.

Galliano is charged with “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” and could ultimately face up to six months in prison and up to euro22,500 ($32,175) in fines. The three judges hearing the case are not required to follow the prosecutor’s request. However, it is rare that the maximum sentence is handed to a first-time offender.

French law prohibits public insults toward others because of their origins, race or religion.

The prosecutor considered that the anti-Semitic slurs were indeed public because at least one client overheard him insulting a couple that initially brought the case.

Were the court to decide that his words were not spoken publicly, the charge would become a misdemeanor.

The defense contended that Galliano was not speaking publicly at the cafe and, because of his inebriated state, had no intention of being hurtful when he spoke.

Galliano’s appearance at the one-day trial put him in the public eye for the first time in months. In a conservative look for him, Galliano was dressed in black with a polka dot neckerchief, sporting a pencil mustache and long hair.

Journalists, including fashion writers, packed the wooden benches in the paneled, gilded courtroom, which features a high ceiling painted with a woman holding the scales of justice. Television cameras were not allowed but zoomed in on Galliano as he went inside.

The famed designer was escorted to a front-row seat at the Justice Palace courtroom, sitting next to an interpreter as he faced the three judges who will decide his fate.

Presiding Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud asked about the evening of Feb. 24, when Galliano allegedly derided a couple with anti-Semitic insults.

Galliano repeatedly said he remembered nothing.

“I have a triple addiction. I’m a recovering alcoholic and a recovering addict,” he testified in English when asked why his memory was blank. He said he started drinking in 2007 and became addicted to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.

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