Gerard Depardieu has failed to appear in court on a drink-driving charge.
The French actor was due before a judge on Tuesday (08.01.13) to face a charge stemming from an arrest in November 2012 when he crashed his scooter in Paris and was found with three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system - but missed the appearance as he is in Montenegro.
Depardieu is in the European country to negotiate a movie about politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn - who was tipped to become the next president of France until a sex scandal ended his aspirations and career.
Speaking to reporters outside the Paris courtroom, the 'Green Card' star's lawyer Eric de Caumont said: ''Despite wanting to be there and meet the judges and in no way to escape justice, Gerard Depardieu absolutely could not be present.''
Although Depardieu did not have to be present at the pre-trial hearing, his no-show means the case will turn into a full trial.
When tracked down by journalists in Montenegro for some time, the award-winning actor denied intentionally missing the court date, insisting he had planned the trip for some time but a late appeal for adjournment was denied by prosecutors.
He said: ''I did not flee judges or justice. The trip to Montenegro had been planned. I notified the court. I am ready to see them any time they like, provided I'm here to defend myself.''
The 'Life of Pi' star had been expected to plead guilty in the case, and likely face a fine and penalty on his driving licence, but missing the court appearance will mean the case is now transferred to criminal court where he could face harsher charges.
Gerard recently became embroiled in controversy when he announced plans to leave France and live in Belgium after the French government opted to impose a tax rate of 75 per cent for top-earning citizens.
He said the taxation changes punished ''success, creation and talent''.
However, the 64-year-old actor - who was also granted Russian citizenship over the weekend - denied he was leaving the country to avoid paying taxes.
He added: ''If I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press say, I would have done it a long time ago.''