Depardieu skips court for film meet

Gerard Depardieu was in Montenegro instead of attending his Paris court case

Gerard Depardieu failed to appear in court to face drink-driving charges because he was preparing to play disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a film.

The French actor's lawyer Eric de Caumont revealed he missed his court appearance to attend a vital meeting in Montenegro about his new film role.

The drink-driving hearing will now be deferred to a criminal court, and the actor could lose his driving licence and face up to two years in jail.

The lawyer insisted that Depardieu, who has threatened to renounce his French citizenship and turn in his passport and social security card, wasn't trying to dodge justice.

The 64-year-old actor was detained by police last November after he fell off his scooter in north-west Paris.

In 1998 Depardieu also crashed his motorbike when his blood-alcohol limit was five times over the legal limit, escaping with leg and face injuries.

Depardieu has caused controversy in recent weeks for other reasons - last Saturday he received a Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin.

Last month, the star threatened to return his French passport after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called him "pathetic" for deciding to move to tax-friendly Belgium.

But Depardieu has denied accepting Russian citizenship to escape the taxman. In an interview on L'Equipe 21 sports channel, the actor said: "I have a Russian passport, but I remain French and I will probably have dual Belgian nationality.

"But if I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press say, I would have done it a long time ago."

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