John Galliano, the former fashion designer ousted from Christian Dior after he was arrested for making anti-Semitic remarks at a Parisian bar, was convicted by a French court Thursday on charges of public insults for reasons of religion, race or ethnicity.
Galliano was fined $8,500 for two separate incidents at the bar, La Perle, the Telegraph reports. The fine was less than the maximum penalty possible for the crimes, $32,175, and Galliano also avoided a prison sentence. In addition, the court suspended the fine, meaning the former designer would not have to pay the penalty unless he repeated the crime in the next five years.
During his trial in June, Galliano apologized for the remarks, claiming he had no recollection of them due to his addiction to alcohol, sleeping pills and Valium. Galliano also apologized during the trial to the victims of his comments, adding that he had experienced discrimination because of his homosexuality.
The trial centered around two incidents in which Galliano was reported to have made anti-Semitic and racist comments to customers at a Parisian bar. One customer at the cafe, Géraldine Bloch, said he called her "dirty Jewish face" and "'dirty whore" as she had drinks with her friend, the Telegraph reports. Another customer Fatiha Oummedour, said that Galliano had called her an "ugly Jewish." Following his arrest in February, a Paris news outlet also released video of Galliano going on an anti-Semitic tirade in December at the same cafe.
The verdict also highlights a difference in free speech laws between the United States and the European Union. In the E.U., citizens can be prosecuted for making racially-charged or bigoted comments. Americans however, have a much greater degree of leeway when it comes to incendiary speech. In March, for instance, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church to picket military funerals, citing the protections provided under the First Amendment.