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Depardieu to face criminal court over drink-driving

AFP

Gérard Depardieu, the French actor at the centre of a heated debate over tax exile, is to face a criminal court hearing after failing to show up at a Paris court Tuesday on charges of drunk driving.

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Gérard Depardieu could have got off with a minor fine and a few penalty points on his driving licence. But, only two days after receiving a Russian passport courtesy of Vladimir Putin, the outspoken tax exile failed to show up at his scheduled court hearing in Paris to face charges of drink driving.

The snub will land France’s best known actor in a criminal court, where he faces a 4500-euro fine and a possible prison sentence of up to two years.

The 64-year-old movie star was briefly detained by police last November after crashing his scooter in the French capital. Police found he had been driving with a blood alcohol level of 1.8 grams per litre, more than three times the French legal limit for driving.

The drink-driving court hearing is the latest twist in a rollercoaster month that has seen the French actor flee first to Belgium and then Russia, before making an appearance at the FIFA’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in Geneva on Monday evening.

Depardieu threatened to renounce his French citizenship in December after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded the actor’s self-imposed tax exile to Belgium as “pathetic” and unpatriotic. Russian President Vladimir Putin promptly seized on the opportunity to offer him a Russian passport.

Still, France’s most famous actor has apparently not made his mind up whether he belongs to France, Russia, or Belgium.

"I have a Russian passport, but I am French and will certainly have dual Belgian citizenship," he said, claiming to be a "citizen of the world", when interviewed on French televison on Monday.

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