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Racial rant lands French star in stir

'Indigenes' star Naceri sentenced to six months in jail

What’s the French phrase for “bitter irony”?

Gallic thesp Samy Naceri, who won a Cannes nod for his role as a Moroccan soldier in “Indigenes” and recently mounted a high-profile media campaign against racism, was sentenced on Dec. 15 to six months in jail — for racially abusing a black prison officer.

With some uncomfortable parallels to the Mel Gibson case, Naceri was arrested last March in Paris on suspicion of drunken driving. Placed in a holding cell overnight, Naceri unleashed a stream of racist abuse on a black prison officer. He later admitted to having been under the influence of “a box of Lexomil (heavy sedatives) and 15 whiskies.”

The first test of how Naceri’s rant will affect his film career comes in early 2007, when “Taxi 4,” the latest installment in the action-comedy franchise, is slated for release.

In the series, Naceri plays a Marseille cabbie given to leading police on extended high-speed chases — frequently under the influence of alcohol.

Naceri, whose father is Algerian and mother French, plays a Moroccan soldier in the French box office hit “Indigenes” (Days of Glory), which highlights the role of North African volunteers in the liberation of Italy and France. Pic is Algeria’s contender in the Oscar foreign-language film race.

In court, Naceri pleaded guilty, asked the officer to forgive him and said he’d since given up alcohol and drugs. He was fined e8,000 ($10,480) and given a six-month sentence — the maximum penalty for racist abuse.