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Gibson charged with drunken driving

india Updated: Aug 03, 2006 15:18 IST

Actor and director Mel Gibson was officially charged with drunken driving after being arrested last week for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway near his swank Malibu estate.

Gibson was also charged on Wednesday with having an elevated blood-alcohol level and having an open container of liquor in his car, CNN reported. Arraignment was set for September 28 in Malibu Superior Court. If convicted, Gibson faces up to six months in jail, but first-time misdemeanour drunken driving offenders usually face minimal, if any, time behind bars.

The charges were filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors a day after Gibson publicly apologised for the anti-Semitic comments he made to his arresting officer, who was Jewish.

Gibson has previously been accused of anti-Semitism in connection with his hit movie The Passion of the Christ, in which Jews were shown to be responsible for the death of Jesus.

But in his apology Tuesday, Gibson denied he was an anti-Semite and appealed to the Jewish community to help him initiate a healing process.

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark," Gibson, 50, said in a statement.

"Please know from my heart I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display," he said.

Jewish leaders gave Gibson's apology a cautious welcome.

But their suspicions were likely to be roused anew by a report Wednesday by Fox News columnist Roger Friedman that in a 2004 interview with Reader's Digest, Gibson cast doubt on the severity of the holocaust in which 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in World War II.

In the unpublished remarks, Gibson ridiculed the historically acknowledged number of Jews killed by Hitler, telling former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan: "I mean when the war was over they said it was 12 million. Then it was six. Now it's four. I mean it's that kind of numbers game."