Rocker Bertrand Cantat's Quebec play role sparks row

Bertrand Cantat, shown in 2009 Prosecutors in 2003 said Cantat punched Trintignant at least 19 times

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A Montreal theatre's hiring of a French rock star convicted of manslaughter has sparked a row, with politicians calling for him to be denied entry.

Theatre du Nouveau Monde has engaged Bertrand Cantat to appear next year in a series of plays by Sophocles.

Cantat was convicted in 2003 of beating girlfriend Marie Trintignant to death in a Lithuanian hotel room. He was released from prison in 2007.

Canadian law appears to bar him. The theatre said he had paid for his crime.

"It is unacceptable," said Gerard Deltell, of provincial party Action democratique du Quebec, who proposed a motion in the Quebec provincial legislature calling on the federal government to bar the former singer for Noir Desir.

"Mr Cantat is not welcome in Quebec."

The Liberal Party, which holds a majority in the Quebec National Assembly, blocked the motion from being debated, local media reported.

Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the federal Bloc Quebecois, also condemned the theatre's choice.

And Josee Verner, a former minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government, said her party would not allow Cantat to enter the country if it were returned to power in the upcoming 2 May election.

"There will be no exception made for him under Canadian immigration laws," Ms Verner said, according to AFP news agency.

Canada's immigration legislation bars from entry anyone convicted abroad of a crime that is punishable in Canada by a maximum term of at least 10 years in prison, until at least five years have passed since the end of the complete sentence handed down.

Cantat, who was sentenced to eight years in jail in Lithuania in 2004, was freed in 2007 after serving half his term. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment in Canada.

Theatre du Nouveau Monde is Montreal's largest theatre company.

The three Sophocles plays, directed by Wajdi Mouawad, are to be performed from 4 May to 6 June 2012.

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