World Watch

4 minute read

Passionate Defense
Lithuanian prosecutors sought a nine-year jail sentence for French rock star Bertrand Cantat at the end of the first week of his emotionally charged trial on charges of murdering his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant. A tearful Cantat, the lead singer of the group Noir Désir, admitted striking Trintignant four times after a jealous row in their Vilnius hotel room last July, but insisted he had not meant to kill her. He told the court of their “extraordinary” love, and said he was “out of control” following the argument. Experts said the actress — the daughter of famed French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant — suffered at least 19 blows. She fell into a coma and died a week later, triggering a national wave of grief; the case has

Muhammed Muheisen/AP

transfixed the French ever since.

Defense lawyers asked the Vilnius court to accept a plea of guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of four years. The trial was attended by relatives and former partners of both Cantat and Trintignant. Cantat’s ex-wife testified that her former husband was a “gentle man” who had never been violent. But Trintignant’s mother, movie director Nadine Trintignant, told the court Cantat was a “murderer” and that she did not believe his expressions of regret. The judges will hear a final statement from Cantat this week.

Special Report: Till Death Do Us Part

Delicate Moment
CYPRUS Last-ditch talks aimed at reunifying the divided island before the Greek Cypriot south accedes to the E.U. on May 1 are set to go ahead in Switzerland this week despite Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s announcement that he will not participate. Denktash, who is opposed to the U.N. plan on which the discussions are based, said he did not believe that agreement could be reached on basic issues. Pro-unification Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat will attend the summit in Denktash’s place. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Turkey ‘s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will join the talks at a later stage.

Tests Negative
RWANDA The U.N. said initial tests on a flight recorder it had locked away in a filing cabinet for 10 years suggested it was not linked to the fatal 1994 plane crash that triggered Rwanda ‘s genocide. Embarassed officials located the “black box” after a report in the French newspaper Le Monde said it was sent to the U.N. shortly after the accident, but never examined. U.N. safety experts said they had not conducted tests at the time because the recorder’s pristine condition led them to believe it could not have been involved in a crash.

A Clean Sweep
HAITI Interim President Boniface Alexandre swore in a new government amid complaints from opposition politicians and the former ruling Lavalas Party that they had been unfairly excluded. Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said that his Cabinet — none of whose members is directly affiliated with a political party — is “nonpartisan” and should be judged by its results. Latortue criticized ousted leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide for visiting Jamaica after two weeks in exile in Africa , saying Aristide’s return to the region might disturb Haiti ‘s “fragile order.”

I See Dread People
A court in the southern city of Montpellier handed a three-month suspended jail sentence to a man who tried to run over a man he mistook for Osama bin Laden. Convinced he had spotted the al-Qaeda leader, the motorist skipped a red light and drove into a pedestrian zone in pursuit. His victim, who was on foot, escaped harm when the car crashed into some steps. The driver later claimed to be delirious as a result of the threat of global terror.

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