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French singer pulls out of festivals amid protests

Last Updated Mar 13, 2018 at 10:20 am EDT

FILE - In this March 20 2009 file photo, French rock singer Bertrand Cantat, center, attends the funeral ceremony of French rock singer Alain Bashung in Paris. Cantat, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend 15 years ago, the actress Marie Trintignant, has pulled out from all the festivals he was scheduled to appear in this summer amid growing protests from feminist groups and politicans. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS – French rock musician Bertrand Cantat, who was convicted of killing his actress girlfriend 15 years ago, has pulled out of all the festivals he was scheduled to appear in this summer amid a growing wave of protests.

The 54-year-old Cantat, the leader of former rock band Noir Desir, released a solo album last year and recently started touring. After several dates were cancelled by organizers following complaints from women’s groups and individuals, Cantat said he took the decision “to put an end to all polemics.”

Cantat was sentenced to eight years in prison and served four after beating to death Marie Trintignant in 2003 during a dispute in a hotel room in Lithuania, where she was making a film.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Cantat reiterated his “utmost sincere, profound and total compassion to the family and close friends of Marie,” but also insisted that he has “paid his debt.”

“I wish today, as any given citizen, the right to reintegration,” Cantat wrote. “The right to exercise my profession, the right for my close family to live in France without being pressured or slandered. The right for the public to go to my concerts and listen to my music.”

He wrote that he understood “being on festival lineups this summer can pose a problem, hence my decision to withdraw.” He did not cancel other dates on his tour. A scheduled show in the southern city of Istres later this month was cancelled by organizers at the venue.

Cantat returned to the spotlight in October last year after French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles put him on its front cover, drawing criticism from France’s gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa amid greater awareness and attention to the issue of violence against women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Trintignant’s mother, the movie director Nadine Trintignant, labelled Cantat’s decision to go on stage as “shameful, obscene” and “disgusting.”

“I’m wondering what the people going (to his shows) are thinking,” Trintignant said on French state TV. “What do they make of the blood, the blows and tears?”