Page last updated at 03:33 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 04:33 UK

Towns in France ban child matador

Michelito is a celebrity in Mexico

Local authorities in southern France have banned two non-lethal bullfights involving a child matador said to have killed 60 young bulls in Mexico.

The matador known as Michelito, aged 10 and fighting since the age of six, had been due to face calves that are not put to death in Fontvieille and Arles.

However, the shows were stopped for security reasons.

Anti-bullfighting campaigners said the boy risked injury. They also cited laws limiting the work of children.

Michelito, whose full name is Michel Lagravere Peniche, said he was disappointed by the bans.

"It's like if someone asks a kid who plays football not to play," the Franco-Mexican matador told French news agency AFP.

Claire Starozinski, president of the Anti-Corrida Alliance, welcomed the bans.

"Even if the aim is not to kill, there is a risk for a child of 30kg [66lb] to be put face to face with an animal of 200kg," she said.

Michelito's father, Michel Lagravere, accused the anti-bullfighting group of picking on his son because he was "in the media spotlight".

Two other minors, both under 16 years of age, were also due to participate in this weekend's competition in Arles.

The Anti-Corrida Alliance said it had targeted Michelito "because he is a star in his country and he fights in corridas aiming to kill" in Mexico.

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