French rock star Bertrand Cantat and his family are being protected by armed police as he awaits trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant.

Cantat's home in Moustey, south-west France, was burnt to the ground on Thursday (11SEP03) in a suspected arson attack, although police say it will take weeks to determine whether it was due to criminal activity.

However, fears for the safety of Cantat and his family have also been raised by anonymous threatening phone calls, with one promising to "burn you all" to "make you pay".

Cantat, lead singer of NOIR DESIR, is accused of murdering Trintignant whilst she filmed in Lithuania after the pair allegedly argued in their hotel room.

His trial has been postponed from later this month to next year (04) due to delays in paperwork, but his defence lawyers are reportedly hoping to have the murder charge reduced to a "crime of passion", so Cantat faces a maximum prison sentence of six years as opposed to 15, if found guilty.

15/09/2003 13:58