French rap singer jailed for punching air hostess

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The Independent Online
JOEY STARR, one of the most popular French rap musicians, was jailed for two months yesterday after being found guilty of insulting and beating up a female flight attendant at a hotel lobby in Montpellier in the south of France last year.

Starr, 32, whose real name is Didier Morville, is lead singer with the group NTM, formerly known as Nique ta Mere (which means, literally "screw your mother"). At his trial in September, he admitted insulting and striking Lucie Mustel but claimed she had slapped him after he commented on her looks. "I just said to my brother that the myth of the good-looking air hostess had collapsed," he said.

Witnesses said that Morville shouted obscenities at Ms Mustel and punched her in the face. Ms Mustel, who received severe facial injuries, was off work for 12 days. She has accepted an out-of-court settlement from the singer in compensation.

Her lawyer said she had dropped her own legal action against the rapper because she did not want "to get mixed up with those who are trying to prosecute NTM" rather than Morville.

NTM, which began in the deprived inner-Parisian suburbs, has become one of France's most popular groups. The band has become a bugbear of French conservatives and the far-right, with a series of songs that appear to preach violence and racial intolerance.

The singer was also fined pounds 3,000. The public prosecutor had called for him to be jailed, pointing out that Morville had two previous convictions for violent conduct.

Demonstrators angered by the death of a popular reggae singer in jail rampaged through the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, for the third day, hurling firebombs at police stations and wounding 30 officers. The violence erupted on Monday, a day after the death of reggae star Kaya, who had been arrested for smoking marijuana at a rally to promote legalisation of the drug. Many Mauritians assume that Kaya was beaten to death by police.