Gerard Depardieu has failed to turn up to face drunk driving charges as his row with the government over taxes rumbles on.Depardieu, whose flight into tax exile has embarrassed French President Francois Hollande as he seeks to impose a 75-per cent upper income tax, had been due to appear for sentencing after admitting to the charge.
He was detained in the French capital in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been riding while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.
Failure to attend could see Depardieu slapped with a maximum two-year prison sentence or a 4,500 euro fine.
On Monday the court refused Depardieu’s request to postpone the hearing for a second time, his lawyer Eric de Caumont said, adding that the actor’s presence at the hearing was not certain. A failure to appear could lead to a criminal court hearing.
The 64-year-old “Cyrano de Bergerac” star was due in Paris after attending one of football’s top award ceremonies, the Ballon d’Or, in Switzerland on Monday, and spending the weekend in Russia.
Speaking to French television 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”.
Depardieu was given a rapturous welcome in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin personally awarded him a Russian passport.
Putin’s move was the latest volley in a highly publicised row between Depardieu and the French government over its attempt to raise the tax rate on earnings of more than one million euros to 75 per cent.
When Depardieu first announced he would leave the country to avoid the tax, Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister, branded the move “pathetic” – prompting the actor to threaten to give up his French citizenship.
France’s top constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, struck down the tax rate on December 29, but French authorities have vowed to push ahead with the tax.
Mr Hollande, who defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency in May, is struggling to balance France’s budget amid a stagnant economy and rising unemployment.
Hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Depardieu has in recent years become as famed for his erratic behaviour as for his acting talents.
In 2011 he generated global headlines when he tried to urinate in a bottle aboard a plane as it prepared to take off from Paris for Dublin.
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