Designer John Galliano is to stand trial in Paris today on charges of public insult for allegedly using racist and anti-Semitic slurs at a Paris cafe in two separate incidents one in February this year and one in October last year.
It is understood that Galliano is likely to put forth a medical testimony about his long-standing battle with substance abuse saying he was addicted to alcohol and tranquillisers when the incidents took place.
The former Christian Dior design director, who was fired from the position in disgrace over the allegations, is to appear before three judges at the Palais de Justice this afternoon in a trial that will be open to the public and is expected to last between four and five hours. However a judgement is unlikely before the autumn.
The trial will address two separate incidents, one on Febuary 24 of this year and another which is alleged to have taken place on October 8, 2010.
Two of the three plaintiffs, Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgitti, claim that Galliano subjected them to what has been described by Bloch’s lawyer as a 45-minute, drink-fuelled tirade of anti-Semitic, racist and personal abuse at a cafe in the Marais district of Paris in February.
Following the announcement in February that Bloch and Virgitti would be taking legal action, another plaintiff, Fathia Oumeddour, came forward about the incident in October saying that Galliano insulted her in the same cafe.
Another incident alleged to have taken place in December in the same cafe was filmed anonymously and posted on the internet. However, this incident will not form part of the trial because the anonymous people who filmed the episode, when Galliano was heard to say “I love Hitler”, never came forward with a complaint.
In France the penalty for insulting someone on the basis of their origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity is a fine of up to €22,000 (£19,552) in fines and a six-month prison sentence.
In the weeks following the incident in February, Galliano was also dropped from his own fashion brand, John Galliano, which is 92% owned by Dior, and came under fire from high profile fashion leaders like Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.
Last month, the designer dismissed his lawyer. He is now represented by Aurélien Hamelle at Metzner Associés in Paris.
According to sources, the designer is still undergoing rehabilitation for excessive drinking and use of prescription medications, but is eager to make a full recovery.