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Designer to face trial over anti-Semitic remarks

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Dior designer: 'I love Hitler'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Galliano will face trial for the remarks, the Paris prosecutor says
  • Video of the prominent designer has sparked controversy
  • He praises Hitler and makes anti-Semitic remarks in the video
  • He says he's sorry

Paris (CNN) -- Designer John Galliano will stand trial for racial insults stemming from anti-Semitic comments he allegedly made against at least three people, the Paris prosecutor announced Wednesday.

French law prohibits the incitement of racial discrimination, hatred, or violence based on someone's origin or their membership -- or non-membership -- in an ethic, national, racial, or religious group.

Before the announcement was made that he would face trial, Galliano apologized Wednesday after a video surfaced that showed him praising Adolf Hitler and making anti-Semitic remarks.

The apology came a day after the fashion giant Christian Dior said it would fire him.

Designer's words crash against Dior's image
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"I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion," Galliano said in a statement. "Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society."

"To start this process I am seeking help and all I can hope for in time is to address the personal failure which led to these circumstances and try and earn people's forgiveness."

The Paris prosecutor said in a statement that Galliano's trial is expected to take place before September. If he's convicted, he faces a six-month jail term and a fine of 22,500 euros ($31,227), the prosecutor said.

Galliano said he has fought prejudice, intolerance and discrimination and that he has been subjected to it himself. Uniting people "of every race, creed, religion and sexuality" by celebrating their diversity through fashion remains his "guiding light," he said.

The designer sparked controversy after video surfaced of remarks he made, reportedly in a Paris bar last year.

"I love Hitler," Galliano said in a video obtained by Britain's Sun newspaper. "Your mother, your forefathers would be f---ing gassed and f---ing dead."

Christian Dior condemned his "deeply offensive statements and conduct."

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman also has condemned Galliano's comments.

"I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano's comments," said Portman, who appears in ads for Miss Dior Cherie perfume. "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.

"I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful," she said.

Before the reports about the video surfaced on Monday, Christian Dior already had suspended Galliano for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks in another incident.

The designer was arrested last Thursday following an argument in a bar in Paris' Marais district, a prosecutor said. He was detained on charges of assault and making anti-Semitic comments after a couple pressed charges against him. Galliano was taken to a police station, and a test revealed he had a high level of alcohol in his blood, the prosecutor said. He was later released.

The designer Wednesday denied the claims made against him in that incident. Several witnesses, he said, told police that Galliano was "subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair" after taking "violent exception" to his appearance, he said.

Galliano has initiated proceedings "for defamation and the threats made against me," he said in the statement. It did not offer additional details about the proceedings.

 
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