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Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-04-05

Controversial French actor Gérard Depardieu, who has taken on Russian citizenship and moved to Belgium for tax reasons, failed to attend court on Friday on a drink driving charge - because he was busy making a film about Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

French-Russian actor Gérard Depardieu skipped a Paris court hearing on a drink-driving charge on Friday because he was busy shooting a film about another notorious Frenchman - disgraced former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Depardieu, who has sparked controversy by taking Russian citizenship and moving to Belgium to avoid French income taxes, was arrested in November 2012 after falling off his scooter drunk.

He was three times over the alcohol limit and faces a fine of 4,500 euros, up to two years in prison and losing his driving license.

It is the second court appearance the millionaire actor has missed because of his filming schedule.

"He wanted to be present, but he couldn't, he really regrets it," Depardieu’s lawyer Eric de Caumont told the court Friday.

He added that Depardieu, whose absence was not an offence, was in New York where he is shooting a film by director Abel Ferrara in which he plays Strauss-Kahn.

Self-imposed exile

His trial has been adjourned until May 24. Depardieu will attend "if it suits his work schedule,” Caumont said.

Depardieu, who is best known for his roles in "Green Card", "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Jean de Florette" and the "Asterix & Obelix" series, has been the centre of intense controversy since he announced he was leaving “sad” France in November.

His decision to quit the country was due to a 75 percent tax rate on incomes over one million euros that the country’s Socialist government wanted to impose.

He has since accepted the offer of Russian citizenship from his “friend” Vladimir Putin.

Depardieu’s move was described by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as “pathetic”.

French President François Hollande’s tax plan was subsequently scrapped after it was ruled unconstitutional, although the government has vowed to find another way of increasing taxes on France’s millionaires.

Date created : 2013-04-05


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