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Depardieu faces new charges after no-show on drink-driving court appearance

Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool

Gerard Depardieu, failed to turn up on Tuesday in a Paris court to face charges of riding his scooter while over the legal alcohol limit.

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The star has already pleaded guilty and would have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his driving licence.

But he now faces a criminal hearing for contempt of court, and could incur a fine of 4,500 euros and a possible prison sentence of up to two years.

The 64-year-old cinema star was arrested in Paris in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been riding with more than three times the legal amount of alcohol in his blood.

Depardieu’s recent decision to base himself outside France where he would pay less tax, has generated huge debate in France and embarrassed French President Francois Hollande.

Although other big names in the French business and entertainment worlds have left France, apparently for tax reasons, Depardieu’s departure has triggered the biggest public reaction, dividing public opinion.

On Monday the actor attended one of football's top award ceremonies, the Ballon d'Or, in Switzerland, after spending the weekend in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin met him and he was given him a Russian passport.

Speaking to French television Monday from Zurich, Depardieu insisted he was still French.

"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".

France's top constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, struck down the Socialist government’s hugely controversial 75 per cent tax rate on December 29, but the government has vowed to push ahead with a modified version of the tax.

 

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