Omar Sharif convicted of head-butt in casino

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The Independent Online

The film star Omar Sharif was convicted in Paris yesterday of attacking a policeman after reportedly losing £20,000 in a single bet at a casino.

The 71-year-old actor, who is best known for Dr Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, is said to have head-butted the officer after he was asked to leave a casino. Sharif received a one-month suspended sentence and a €1,500 (£1,000) fine for "violence towards a police officer" at Pontoise criminal court.

The actor, who was born in Alexandria but is largely based in Paris, is renowned for his love of gambling and playing bridge professionally.A row broke out between Sharif and a croupier on 5 July while he was playing roulette at the Enghien-les-Bains casino in a Parisian suburb, the French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

Despite stating recently that he had given up his passion for gambling, it was claimed that Sharif was a regular at the casino. After the row broke out, a police officer reportedly stepped in to calm the situation. However, Sharif allegedly insulted the officer and butted him.

Sharif was not available for comment yesterday. The hotel where he lives in Paris said he was on holiday for the month.

In spite of earning huge sums as an award-winning actor, he is said to have lost £750,000 in a night. This is reportedly why he had to give up his home in the Bois de Boulogne. He has since split his time between the Paris hotel and a flat in Cairo.

Sharif was already a film star in Egypt when he came to the attention of David Lean, who cast him in Lawrence of Arabia. But it was as Dr Zhivago opposite Julie Christie in the 1965 film that he became best known.

The actor has long been associated with a gambling, playboy reputation. He reportedly developed his love of betting on the knee of his mother, Claire Shatoub, who was a legendary gambler in Cairo.