France bullfighting ban bid fails

A legal bid to ban bullfighting in parts of France has failed.

The French Constitutional Council rejected a challenge by two animal rights groups against a practice that advocates say is part of some regions' cultural heritage.

Opponents had sought to ban bullfighting based on France's criminal code that forbids cruelty to animals.

But the legal text also allows for exceptions in the case where such events can be shown to be part of local tradition.

The Constitutional Council upheld the validity of that legislation.

The nine-member body counts former French presidents like Nicolas Sarkozy among its members and rules on whether laws abide by France's Constitution.

Bullfighting in France is generally practised in the south - near its native Spain, where it is also battling to survive.