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Bertrand CANTAT





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: French singer and songwriter - Argument related to infidelity
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 26, 2003
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: March 5, 1964
Victim profile: His girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant, 41
Method of murder: Beating
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Status: Sentenced to 8 years in prison for murder committed with indirect intent (dolus eventualis) on March 29, 2004. Released on parole on October 16, 2007, after serving half of his sentence

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Bertrand Lucien Bruno Cantat (born 5 March 1964) is a French singer and songwriter. He is the frontman for the rock band Noir Désir.

Cantat was born in Pau, Aquitaine / Occitania. In 1997 he married Kristina Rady, with whom he had two children.

At the height of Noir Désir's success in the 1990s, he was one of the most prominent figures of French music. His left-wing political views caused him take position against globalisation, fascism, desertification of urban areas in Bordeaux and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, among other topics.

In 2003, following an argument related to infidelity, Bertrand Cantat repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend Marie Trintignant in a hotel room in Vilnius, Lithuania, then tucked her unconscious body into bed. She died several days later in hospital due to brain swelling.

At his 2004 trial, prosecutors said he had hit her 19 times, causing irreversible brain damage. He was said to have flown into a jealous rage after she received an affectionate text message from her former husband. Notably, Cantat was also admitted to the same hospital, suffering from a lethal mix of alcohol and sedatives and required an immediate Gastric lavage.

The death of Marie caused considerable emotion in France. Nadine Trintignant, Marie's mother, actively sought a heavy sentence; Cantat's friends claimed he had been out of his mind and had not intended to cause harm.

On 29 March 2004, Cantat was sentenced by Vilnius Regional Court under Article 129 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code to 8 years in prison for murder committed with indirect intent (dolus eventualis), i.e. it was acknowledged by the court that he didn't want to kill the victim, but foresaw her death as a probable consequence of his acts and was indifferent with regard to such a consequence.

The verdict was at first appealed by Marie's family (who wanted to toughen the sentence), then by Bertrand Cantat (who wanted the higher court to reclassify his crime as a manslaughter and lessen his sentence), but both parties ultimately decided to cancel their appeals, which rendered the first 8 years judgment final. While in Lukiškės prison of Vilnius, Cantat performed on 11 August 2004 a concert for prisoners and the prison's administration.

At the request of his lawyers, Cantat was moved from a Lithuanian prison to a prison near Muret, France on 28 September 2004.

Cantat was released on parole on 16 October 2007, after serving half of his sentence.

His house in Landes was burned down on 11 September 2003.

Ex-wife Krisztina Rády committed suicide on January 10, 2010, while he was sleeping in the same house.

On November 30, 2010, the group announced that it would split up for good and that the era of Noir Desir was over.


Profile: Bertrand Cantat

BBC News

Monday, 29 March, 2004

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

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.


Singer jailed for killing lover

BBC News

Monday, 29 March, 2004

A court in Lithuania has sentenced a French rock star to eight years in prison for killing his actress girlfriend during a fight.

Bertrand Cantat, 40, was convicted of fatally beating Marie Trintignant, 41, in a Vilnius hotel room last year.

Cantat, lead singer with Noir Desir, had admitted killing Ms Trintignant but said it was an accident.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of nine years, saying Cantat had known the gravity of his actions.


The singer's lawyers wanted a reduced charge of reckless manslaughter, which carried a lesser penalty.

Cantat remained impassive as the verdict was announced.

"According to the judges' opinion, the guilt of the accused is indisputable," the presiding judge said, noting that Cantat "did not want the consequences" of his acts.

When asked if he understood the sentence, Cantat replied: "Yes".

Cantat's lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said he will appeal against the verdict.


Ms Trintignant's killing and Cantat's trial gripped France, where both are well-known personalities.

During the trial, the court heard that Cantat hit Ms Trintignant four times as they rowed in the hotel last July.

Ms Trintignant, the daughter of French film star Jean-Louis Trintignant, died five days later from swelling of the brain.

Cantat admitted slapping Ms Trintignant, but said he did not intend to kill her.

"I don't understand. I just can't understand," Cantat told the court.

"We lived an extraordinary moment, I loved Marie with all my being. I loved her and I'll always love her. I think of her each second and I'll always think of her. I can't erase her from my memory," he said.

Nadine Trintignant, the victim's mother, has rejected Cantat's explanations, and labelled him a "murderer" in a book she wrote about her daughter.


Cantat prosecutors demand nine years

BBC News

Thursday, 18 March, 2004

Prosecutors have demanded a nine-year jail term for French rock star Bertrand Cantat for killing his actress girlfriend Marie Trintignant.

Mr Cantat denies murdering Ms Trintignant in a violent row in their Lithuanian hotel room.

He says her death was a tragic accident during a row in which they had both "lost control".

Prosecutors on Thursday demanded the nine-year prison term, saying Mr Cantat was guilty of murder.

"I consider that the guilt of the accused has been proved," said prosecutor Vladimiras Sergejevas.

Mr Cantat, he said, was "fully aware of his actions and could not have been unaware of their seriousness".

Mr Cantat's lawyers are arguing he should serve no more than six years on the grounds that he did not intend to kill her.

The court in Lithuania could reach a verdict as early as Thursday, or could retire to consider its decision.


Ms Trintignant, daughter of veteran French movie star Jean-Louis Trintignant, died in hospital from brain injuries five days after the incident.

French medical experts say she had been hit in the face and repeatedly shaken, but Mr Cantat says he only slapped her and she sustained the serious injuries in a fall.

Mr Cantat wept in court on Tuesday as he insisted he had loved Ms Trintignant, but both had lost control in the row.

His estranged wife, Kristina Rady, has described him in court as "an honest man, very good and very gentle".

She denied he had ever been violent towards her.

Mr Cantat, lead singer with the French rock band Noir Desir, was in Lithuania with Ms Trintignant while she was making a television film with her mother, director Nadine Trintignant.


Wife defends singer over 'murder'

BBC News

Wednesday, 17 March, 2004

The estranged wife of French rock singer Bertrand Cantat has defended him against charges that he murdered French actress Marie Trintignant.

Testifying in court in Lithuania, Kristina Rady said Mr Cantat was "an honest man, very good and very gentle".

She denied he had ever been violent towards her.

Mr Cantat, 40, is accused of fatally injuring Trintignant during a violent incident in their hotel room in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius last July.

Questioned on Mr Cantat's character and whether he was violent, Ms Rady said: "I never told anyone around me that Bertrand had raised his hand against me".

"I could never have lived with a liar, a macho [man] and a beater," said Ms Rady, 35, who is the mother of Mr Cantat's two children.

But for Trintignant's husband, director Samuel Benchetrit, Mr Cantat was "jealous", and "cried for himself more than he did for Marie".

Mr Benchetrit said Ms Rady had told him she had been the victim of violence on Mr Cantat's part, that he had hit her and even chased her with a knife.

He added that the day after Trintignant was beaten up, "Kristina told me that the same thing had happened to her".

Trintignant, the daughter of veteran French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, died in Paris from swelling to the brain, five days after the incident in Vilnius.

Doctors performed two operations on her brain, but were unable to save her.

Mr Cantat, the lead singer from France's top-selling rock group Noir Desir (Black Desire), denies the charges and says her death was a tragic accident.


On Tuesday, Mr Cantat admitted slapping 41-year-old Trintignant four times, but told the court her death was an accident, before breaking down in tears.

Family and friends of both Mr Cantat and Marie Trintignant are in court.

They were joined on Wednesday by the father of one of Trintigant's children, actor Francois Cluzet.

Judges are expected to hand down a verdict and sentence this week or early next week.

Mr Cantat faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.


Rock star lover 'lost control'

BBC News

Tuesday, 16 March, 2004

French rock star Bertrand Cantat broke down in tears on Tuesday as he went on trial accused of murdering his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant.

Mr Cantat, 40, is accused of causing Trintignant's death during a violent incident in their hotel room in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius last July.

Mr Cantat admitted slapping 41-year-old Trintignant four times, but told the court her death was an accident.

"Marie lost control, I lost control..." AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Trintignant, daughter of veteran French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, died in Paris from swelling to the brain, five days after the incident in Vilnius. Doctors performed two operations on her brain, but were unable to save her.

Mr Cantat, lead singer from France's top-selling rock group Noir Desire (Black Desire), says Trintignant's death was a tragic accident.

"I should have left, should never have done that of course. I lost control," he is quoted by AFP news agency as saying in court on Tuesday.

The singer, remanded in custody in Lithuania since his arrest, told judges he slapped Trintignant four times while he was drunk - contradicting prosecutors who said he punched her at least 19 times.

"Everything happened very fast," he said. "Never, never did I want things to happen that way. This hand should never have risen. And I do not accept myself having raised this hand," The Associated Press quoted the singer as saying.

He was also allowed by the court to address Marie Trintignant's family.

"I love Marie's children," he said. "This was a moment that was completely beyond us.

"I want to tell them that Marie did not die of hate and I also want to say that there are other people in this story... my wife, my children," the singer said, before starting to cry.

Later, Trintignant's mother, Nadine, testified in court.

"My impression [of Bertrand Cantat] was false. I thought he was a gentle man."

Open trial

Judges are expected to hand down a verdict and sentence this week.

Mr Cantat faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Earlier, the court in Vilnius rejected a prosecution request for the trial to be held behind closed doors.

"We are concerned about revelations about the private lives of Bertrand Cantat and especially Marie Trintignant, who cannot defend herself," prosecutor Ramutis Jancevicius told AFP.

But the court said that if the debates were held publicly, this would allow mistakes made in the press relating to the case to be rectified, AFP says.

"With respect to the children, both the children of Bertrand Cantat and those of my daughter, they have unfortunately read everything about Marie's life in the press... I am against" a closed-door hearing, Nadine Trintignant told the court.

More than 200 reporters, mostly French, have descended on Vilnius to cover the proceedings.

Family and friends of both Mr Cantat and Marie Trintignant attended, with Nadine Trintignant arriving at the court house dressed entirely in black.

Mr Cantat's mother and father, as well as members of his band, sat nearby.


Trintignant lover under investigation

BBC News

Thursday, 21 August, 2003

A leading French rock singer has been put under investigation by the French authorities, in connection with the death of his lover, actress Marie Trintignant.

Bertrand Cantat, who is in custody in Lithuania and is already under investigation by local prosecutors, was questioned for the first time on Thursday by a French judge, Nathalie Turquey.

He is suspected of accidentally killing Ms Trintignant.

The Associated Press news agency quoted a Lithuanian prosecutor as saying that Mr Cantat will probably stand trial in Vilnius in the middle of September.

Romutis Jancevicius said that extradition was not being considered, despite the existence of the separate French inquiry.

The singer with the Noir Desir group was arrested after Ms Trintignant - who was filming in Lithuania - was admitted to hospital in a coma suffering head injuries on 27 July.

She was pronounced dead in Paris five days later.

Mr Cantat, who arrived for questioning at Vilnius prosecutor's office in handcuffs and with a jacket over his head, has admitted slapping his lover.

His lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said on Wednesday that the singer felt responsible for the death.

"Bertrand is not seeking to evade his responsibilities," he said.

"He never thought that it could end this way. I have the feeling that... his life no longer has any meaning."


Asked by journalists on Thursday if Mr Cantat was still saying that he only gave Ms Trintignant a slap, he replied: "He never said that. He never said he only slapped her."

After the meeting, he said his client had given an account of his "extraordinary" year-long relationship with Ms Trintignant, and "why, that evening there, things had unfortunately degenerated".

Judge Turquey was present on Wednesday as the Lithuanian authorities questioned two witnesses.

A British man occupying a hotel room next door to the couple's said he heard them arguing on the evening of 26 July, shortly before the incident took place, but did not understand what was said.

And a Lithuanian assistant director on the set of the film, Andrius Leliuga, described the couple's behaviour prior to the argument.

Meanwhile toxicology tests have shown that Mr Cantat had no drugs in his system on the night in question.

Life support

Ms Trintignant had been in Lithuania making a television film with her director mother Nadine Trintignant when the incident happened.

She had been staying in a hotel with Mr Cantat, who fronts the popular band Noir Desir, and her 17-year-old son Roman.

She was admitted to hospital where she remained for several days before being flown back to France, where she was kept alive on a life-support machine.

Doctors performed two operations on her brain but were never hopeful of her chances of survival.

Under the French legal system, placing Mr Cantat under formal investigation is a step short of pressing charges against him.


French actress Trintignant dies

BBC News

Friday, 1 August, 2003

French President Jacques Chirac has paid tribute to actress Marie Trintignant, who has died after spending days in a coma.

Mr Chirac said Ms Trintignant had "served her art with beauty, sensitivity and intelligence".

Her death was announced on Friday by a neurosurgeon at the Hartmann clinic in Neuilly, France, who said she had suffered a cerebral edema.

Her boyfriend Bertrand Cantat, lead singer with rock band Noir Desir, is being detained by police in Lithuania on suspicion of beating her following a row.

The 41-year-old, who was the daughter of French film veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant, starred in more than 30 French-language films.

'Touching hearts'

Ms Trintignant, who has four children, had been filming in Lithuania with her mother, director Nadine Trintignant.

Neurosurgeon Stephane Delajoux said: "Miss Marie Trintignant died this morning at 1020 (0820 GMT) following a cerebral oedema, despite the efforts made to revive her since she arrived at the Hartmann Clinic."

Following the announcement, Mr Chirac said: "She served her art with beauty, sensitivity and intelligence, touching the hearts of the public through cinema and television alike.

"We are all dreadfully aware of the injustice of a destiny so brutally shattered."

Ms Trintignant was taken to a hospital in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Sunday but was already in a coma.


Despite two operations on her brain, doctors gave her family very little hope that she would survive.

Her parents took the decision to have her flown back to France on Thursday, against medical advice, because they wanted their daughter to die in her native country.

Mr Cantat, 39, appeared in court on Thursday where a judge extended his detention until 14 August.

He denied beating the actress and said it had been an accident.

Ms Trintignant had been completing two months of filming a television movie Colette, based on the life of French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.


Actress in coma after hotel 'attack'

BBC News

Monday, 28 July, 2003

A French actress is in a coma in Lithuania with severe head injuries after a suspected attack.

Marie Trintignant is in a critical condition with little hope of survival, her doctor told French radio.

Police are expected to question her French boyfriend, rock singer Bertrand Cantat of the band Noir Desir, in connection with the incident.

Doctors say 41-year-old Trintignant was taken to hospital on Sunday morning from the Vilnius Domina Plaza Hotel, and underwent surgery to ease pressure on her brain.

"At this point, I cannot promise anything," said Doctor Robertas Kvascevicius at Vilnius University Hospital.

"In such cases the chances for survival are minimal. The rate of mortality is 90 to 95%. There is little chance she will pull through it."

Cantat was also admitted to the hospital after drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol, said police spokeswoman Ruta Andriuskaite.

The hospital changed its mind about releasing him for questioning on Monday, saying he still required medical supervision. He is now expected to be questioned on Tuesday.

The Baltic News Service quoted a senior police official, Juozas Kandzezauskas, as saying he left open the possibility that Trintignant fell and hit her head after being pushed.

"Maybe it will be described as an accident," he was quoted as saying. "We should be in no rush. We will speak to the suspect and everything will be clear."

Trintignant was in Lithuania to film a TV movie directed by her mother, Nadine Trintignant, about the life of French author Collette.

She has starred in scores of French and several Hollywood films, often playing emotionally unstable women.

Her father is one of France's best-known actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant.



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