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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Profile: Bertrand Cantat
Bertrand Cantat
Cantat has begged Trintignant family for forgiveness
The lead singer of France's most successful rock band has been jailed for eight years after beating his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant, to death.

The charismatic Bertrand Cantat first came to the attention of France's music scene almost 20 years ago.

Celebrated for his enigmatic performances as the lead singer of Noir Desir, he was hailed as the French Jim Morrison.

But Cantat was known in France for his strong public stance on issues such as globalisation and racism as much as his on-stage persona.

Punk influence

A rebel with a love of literature, a star with a social conscience, Cantat became an idol to thousands of anti-capitalist teenagers during his years in the spotlight.

Cantat was born in Normandy in 1964, but moved to Bordeaux as a young man where he formed Noir Desir - or Black Desire - with guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay, bassist Frédéric Vidalenc and drummer Denis Barthe in 1980.

But their poetic lyrics and music heavily influenced by the dimming Punk scene from England did not bring them overnight success.

Years of playing in the local pubs and clubs eventually led to the big break with the release of an album in 1987.

The quartet went on to become France's biggest selling rock band, dominating the 1990s with six multi-million selling albums.

It was after a gruelling European tour that Cantat met his wife, Kristina, when he took a year off in 1993 to rest his vocal chords

Marie Trintignant
Marie Trintignant starred in many French-speaking films

The couple went on to have two children, but their relationship broke down when Cantat met Marie Trintignant.

Beguiling and beautiful, the pairing of the 41-year-old daughter of French film veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant and the charismatic Cantat, made them the darlings of France.

But the fairytale was all to end tragically in the a hotel room in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius last July, where Trintignant was filming.

Some quarters of the French press have drawn poignant parallels with the fate of the late Nancy Spungen, the girlfriend of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, who was found dead from a single stab wound in their hotel room.

Others, like the magazine Paris Match, compared the couple to Romeo and Juliet.

'Emotional strain'

Cantat claimed it had been an accident; a crime of passion, that he had not meant to kill Trintignant when he slapped her four times across the face then tucked her sleeping body into bed.

Prosecutors alleged he rained her 19 blows to her head in a jealous rage. She died after days in a deep coma and a post-mortem examination showed she had suffered multiple head injuries.

Cantat cried often in court as he spoke about their "extraordinary love" and the case sparked a heated debate in France about domestic violence.

He appealed to the court through his lawyers to reclassify the case as reckless manslaughter, rather than murder, on the grounds of being under emotional strain.




SEE ALSO:
Singer jailed for killing lover
29 Mar 04  |  Europe
French rock star awaits verdict
23 Mar 04  |  Europe
Rock star lover 'lost control'
16 Mar 04  |  Europe



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