Even the French like a revolving door policy…

11Nov07

Marie Trintignant, left, who was battered to death by her rock star boyfriend Bertrand Cantat (AP and AFP/Getty Images)

Anger as rock star Bertrand Cantat who murdered girlfriend is freed after four years
Charles Bremner in Paris (17 Oct 2007)

One of France’s biggest rock stars was released from prison yesterday after serving half of an eight-year sentence for killing his actress girlfriend in a jealous rage over a text message.

Bertrand Cantat, 43, lead singer of the left-wing group Noir Désir, was driven by his band’s drummer from a Toulouse jail to his country home at midnight. Feminist campaigners decried what they said was leniency towards men who battered women.

Cantat became the centre of a lurid drama in July 2003 when he punched and slapped Marie Trintignant, 41, in an hotel room in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. They had quarrelled over a text message that Ms Trintignant, a mother of four and the daughter of Jean-Louis Trintignant, a 1960s film idol, had received from her former husband. She struck her head on a radiator and died in a Paris hospital a week later.

Cantat pleaded that he never meant to kill but was convicted of murder in Vilnius and returned to France in 2004. A court last month approved his release on condition that he received regular psychological counselling and refrained from public reference to the murder in interviews or in music. Olivier Metzner, Cantat’s lawyer, said that the singer was thrilled to be free. “But it is not over for him. He will continue to bear the burden of guilt, which he has never sought to deny,” he said.

Nadine Trintignant, the victim’s mother, failed to persuade President Sarkozy and judges to block the early release. “This will be a worrying signal to all those who are struggling to ensure that violence against women is justly punished,” Ms Trintignant, a film director, wrote to Judge Philippe Laflaquière.

She criticised the release on Monday as she inaugurated a home for battered women in Paris with Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor. “Under the law, a man who kills his companion should be sentenced to 20 or 25 years or life. But they never get more than eight and usually they only do four,” said Ms Trintignant, who, before her daughter’s death, was making a TV film starring her.

La Meute (The Pack), a feminist organisation, said that Cantat’s release sent the wrong signal to men in France, where one woman was killed every three days by a partner. “Four years — is that the price to pay for such a crime?” asked La Meute. “So-called crimes of passion are still too often considered with indulgence.”

Cantat’s lawyers and Mr Laflaquière noted that being released for good behaviour after serving half a sentence was standard in France. “Contrary to certain claims in the media, Bertrand Cantat has benefited in no way whatsoever from favourable treatment,” Mr Laflaquière said.

Cantat has been reunited with the wife from whom he was estranged in 2003. He has paid compensation to two of Ms Trintignant’s four children and to the production company behind the TV film, in which she played the author Colette. The money was raised partly by receipts from a live album released by Noir Désir while Cantat was in prison.

The house to which he returned yesterday has been repaired after being badly damaged by arsonists four years ago.

The Times Online

FTR, it wasn’t me who burnt down his house… but I’m not crying about it either.

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