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VIDEO: Police accused over bullfight protest

Dan MacGuill · 26 Aug 2013, 10:25

Published: 26 Aug 2013 10:25 GMT+02:00

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The protest, by around 60 members of the animal rights groups CRAC Europe and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, took place on Saturday at the bullfighting arena in Rion-des-Landes in south-western France.

Eight people were wounded, including a man in his 60s who suffered a serious head injury, when police and bullfighting organizers intervened to remove the protestors from the arena.

The family of the man, named only as Alain, have announced their intention to press charges against an individual in charge of the bullfight, accusing him of inflicting serious head injuries on the protestor.

"We have photos,” warned Jean-Pierre Garrigues, vice-president of CRAC Europe.

France's most famous animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardotte has also blasted the police for their heavy-handed approach.

OPINION: "Bullfighting is a French tradition - leave us in peace"

In a statement on her foundation’s website over the weekend, Bardot “severely condemn[ed] the brutality and savagery with which law enforcement and certain [bullfighting] aficionados attacked anti-bullfighting protestors...”

For his part, however, local police Colonel Fabrice Spinetta condemned the protestors themselves for being “very aggressive” in their actions.

Furthermore, deputy mayor of Rion-des-Landes, Bernard Dehez, who was himself one of the organizers of Saturday’s bullfight, announced that Mayor Jöel Goyheneix would be pressing charges against the protestors.

Dehez accused the anti-bullfighting activists of “offences against public order and destruction of property,” as well as “being a nuisance to our show, which led to financial losses.”

Saturday’s event was set to be a “novillada”, where particularly young bulls face off against inexperienced or apprentice matadors.

Such a fight typically ends in the young bulls being put to death.

Story continues below…

Bullfighting, known as “corrida”, from the Spanish term, is illegal in France, but a cultural heritage loophole allows it to continue to take place in southern and south-western France.

With Spanish authorities clamping down on the tradition, the bullfighting region of France has seen audiences for spectacles such as Saturday’s rise in recent years, much to the dismay of groups like CRAC and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.

The following is footage of Saturday's extraordinary protest, by Jérôme Lescure.


Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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