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Killer rock star won't sing for Sophocles

AFP

Should Avignon provide a stage for a convicted killer? Avignon Festival organisers have come under fire for inviting French rock star Betrand Cantat to appear on stage here.

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Cantat has been convicted of killing his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant, punching her to death in a drunken rage.

Dossier: Festival d'Avignon 2011

Her father, French film legend Jean-Louis Trintignant, refuses to come to the Avignon Festival because he might cross paths with the man who killed his daughter.

In 2004, a Lithuanian court sentenced Cantat to eight years in prison for manslaughter. He was transferred to a French prison, where he was eventually granted early release after serving half of the sentence.

A major Montreal theatre company asked Cantat to take part in a production by Quebec playwright and director Wajdi Mouawad, whose show is coming to Avignon. Cantat composed the soundtrack and was to sing as part of the chorus in a rock version of three Greek tragedies by Sophocles.

"Wajdi considers that it is also an opportunity for his friend to exorcise the horror of the act he committed," his press agent says, "to make amends in a show that denounces violence against women."

But in the face of widespread outrage – women’s groups said that domestic violence was being trivialised - Cantat decided to cancel his role. In a brief statement to the press, he said he wouldn’t come to Avignon for “personal reasons and out of respect for the grief of Jean-Louis Trintignant”.

The theatre and Cantat’s friends have defended him, saying he has paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.

But Jean-Louis Trintignant doesn’t agree.

“What he did was to kill a woman,” he told Le Figaro newspaper. “And for that he served four years in prison? Why couldn’t he stay away? Today, I hate this man, and I’m going to say something terrible. He’s behaved like a piece of filth and is the man I most detest in the world.”

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