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CRIME

French rock magazine ‘regrets’ giving front cover to singer who killed girlfriend

A French rock magazine has accepted it caused a great deal of "pain" after putting Bertrand Cantat, a singer who beat his girlfriend to death, on the front cover. The inflammatory cover had prompted Elle magazine to respond by putting his victim Marie, on their own front cover.

French rock magazine 'regrets' giving front cover to singer who killed girlfriend
Convicted murderer Bertrand Cantat on the front cover of Les Inrocks and Marie Trintignant on the front cover of Elle. Photo: AFP

A French magazine has expressed regret after coming under fire for featuring a rock star who murdered his girlfriend on its cover amid a growing scandal over allegations of sexual violence against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Bertrand Cantat was convicted of killing his actress girlfriend Marie Trintignant in a hotel room in Lithuania in 2003.

Music magazine Les Inrockuptibles Tuesday expressed its “regrets” in an editorial and acknowledged its decision to put Cantat on its October 6 cover, ahead of the release of his first solo album, was “questionable”.

The cover provoked widespread outrage on social media and France's women's rights minister Marlene Schiappa also blasted the magazine.

“In the name of what do we have to endure the promotion of the man who beat Marie Trintignant to death? Do not let anything pass,” Schiappa said.

Elle magazine publishing a scathing editorial on social media titled “In the name of Marie: for all women victims of men's violence.”

“The pain that this cover has stirred up has deeply touched us,” the Inrockuptibles editorial said.

“The reactions that followed… have upset us, and we are committed to always being vigilant in the way we treat and cover the subjects we consider
important.”

Cantat's comeback was one such subject but “to put him on the cover was questionable”.

“To those who felt hurt, we express our sincere regrets,” it said.

Cantat, former frontman of the top French rock group Noir Desir, was sentenced to eight years in prison for murdering his girlfriend. She suffered severe brain damage after the pair had a fight and later died from her injuries.

Cantat served four years before being released on parole in 2007.

According to reports, Cantat beat Trintignant to death during an argument over a text message in a hotel room.

He apparently waited hours before raising the alarm and Trintignant died several days later in hospital in a coma.

During the trial, Cantat originally insisted that her fatal head injuries were caused when she hit her head on a radiator but was eventually convicted by a Lithuanian court of murder with indirect intent.

After being freed, the rocker was then banned from speaking publically about the case as well as from publishing any related work or recording.

French rock star killer makes comeback gaffe

“Marie Trintignant, you are not forgotten,” Elle said.

“Thanks to this, her face has become that of all women victims of the violence of men,”  journalist Dorothee Werner wrote in the editorial, recalling that 123 women were killed in France by their spouses in 2016.

“To all these women as well as the actresses against Weinstein… it takes courage,” she said, referring to the growing scandal over Weinstein, who is
accused of rape and sexual harassment of dozens of actresses.

Cantat made a comeback with his new band Detroit in 2013.

The Local reported how in September 2013 he was forced to alter the release date of his comeback album because it coincided with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

He is due to release his first solo album later this year.

Marie Trintignant's father is the veteran actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, who won the 2012 best actor gong at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in the Michael Haneke film Amour.

The actor has already expressed his outrage at Cantat's attempts to make a return to the music scene.

In 2011 he pulled out of  the Avignon theatre festival after hearing his daughter's murderer had been booked to play two gigs.

At the time he told Le Figaro: “Why can't people understand that there's something terrible in his way of coming back as if nothing has happened.”

 

WILDFIRES

French police track forest fire-starters by air and land

On the ground, two officers from a special mobile brigade of France's paramilitary gendarmerie speed along a forest track.

French police track forest fire-starters by air and land

Above them, a helicopter scans the landscape to warn them of any fires or anyone who might be looking to start one.

These are the members of a newly created police team who have just started patrolling in southwest France to seek out and arrest the fire-starters devastating the region’s forests.

In the last week, no less than 20 fires have broken out in the forest bordering the seaside resort of Soulac-sur-Mer in the La Gironde department of southwest France, says the local gendarmerie.

While some have burned for just a 100 square metres (322 square feet), the largest devoured 30 hectares (74 acres) of forest.

Scorched trees and charred trunks line the paths and cycle paths that criss-cross the woods.

To stop the devastation, local officials have sent in the new unit, the Forest Vigilance Platoon (PVF) made up of 15 reservist gendarmes, a senior police officer and two motorcyclists from the mobile brigade, backed up by the
helicopter.

Spread across three zones, the PVF patrol the forest on motorbikes, all-terrain bicycles or in cars, where possible, on the hunt for fire-starters.

Set up just last week they started patrolling on Thursday.

The idea is that the PVF will free up firefighters who have been stretched thin battling blazes that since Tuesday have burned up 7,400 hectares of pine forests at the southern end of Gironde.

“After the major fires in July, we observed a rise in the number of arson cases,” said Martin Guespereau, deputy prefect for defence and security in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which covers the Gironde.

“There are around twenty fires of unknown origin a day in Gironde.”

 According to France’s National Forests Office (ONF) nine out of 10 fires were started by people — and three out of 10 were started deliberately.

Forest off-limits

“The Forest Vigilance Platoon is a support division, whose aim is to prevent, detect and possible to arrest,” said Captain Christophe Roque, who was given the job of putting the team together.

Red-and-white signs at the edge of the Soulac-sur-Mer forest inform walkers that due to the “very severe” risk of fire, the forest is off-limits to the public until further notice — and has been since August 11.

A few cyclists were nevertheless out on the trails on Saturday, and were quickly intercepted by the gendarmes of the PVF.

“As soon as we come across someone, we get their identity,” said one member of the team, Bruno Kechtoff. “Because if we come across the same person several times, then that becomes suspicious.”

A message comes over the radio: two outbreaks of fire barely 500 metres (yards) apart, near Bazas, south of Bordeaux, the regional capital. A local has reported seeing someone on a moped wearing “yellow-trimmed” trousers”.

The LVF’s helicopter veers off towards Bazas, 130 kilometres away (80 miles) away.

Where they are sent next depends on where the next fires break out, says Constable Jeremy Hernandez. “We have been called here urgently but we can move if other areas are concerned.”

Then they are in their car and driving off, siren wailing, on the look-out for a quad reported in the woods.

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