Violence flared in the central Portuguese town of Villa Franca de Xira when two bullfighters were arrested for killing bulls in defiance of the law.
Violence flared in the central Portuguese town of Villa Franca de Xira when two bullfighters were arrested for killing bulls in defiance of the law. Their supporters reacted angrily at the arrests, and three people were treated for injuries after crowds clashed with riot police. The controversy was sparked off when six bulls were ceremonially killed in a bullfight in the Spanish style, as part of a growing drive to change the laws forbidding their deaths in the ring. A third matador who took part in the killing escaped among the cheering fans before police could arrest him.
SYNOPSIS: The fight began legally, in the traditional manner, with a picador in action. In this case, the horseman failed to do his job properly, and allowed his mount to be cornered.
Then Venezuelan matador Rayito, instead of fighting the bull to a standstill with his sword-cape in the approved style, decided to go for a kill. He not only broke the law, but did a clumsy job as well. The crowd, however, were delighted at a return to killing.
The crowd again demanded a kill when Portuguese matador Jose Julio appeared. Julio, already awaiting trial for killing bulls in the ring last October, bowed to the spectators' demand. But he, too, failed to make a clean kill -- one of the reasons why killing is still banned in Portugal as cruel because it can lead to a slow death. It was abolished in 1799, with a brief experimental return 50 years ago. In neighbouring Spain, killing is still legal. Ironically, among true aficionados Portuguese bullfighting is acclaimed as the more graceful of the two styles, because the cape-work is the whole essence of the fight, not merely rushed through as a prelude to a kill.
After placing his banderoles into his second bull, Julio again went in for the kill. And again, he failed to do it cleanly, placing the sword into a lung instead of the heart.
The arrested bullfighters were expected to be dealt with leniently by the courts.