French star lawyer found dead near his private island

17th March 2013, Comments 0 comments

A French star lawyer whose clients ranged from Panama's ex-dictator Manuel Noriega to former prime minister Dominique de Villepin was Sunday found dead near his private island in Brittany, sources and officials said.

Sources told AFP that the body of Olivier Metzner was found floating in the Gulf of Morbihan, a natural harbour on France's western coast, on Sunday morning. A suicide letter was also found in his house on the nearby Boedic island, they said.

The gendarmerie confirmed the death but declined to give any details surrounding it.

Coming from a modest background, Metzner, 63, quickly scaled the career ladder and came to represent some of the most famous names in France, including rogue trader Jerome Kerviel who caused his employer Societe Generale billions of euros in losses, and Noir Desir singer Bertrand Cantat who was convicted of killing his actress girlfriend Marie Trintignant in Vilnius in 2003.

Metzner also represented de Villepin, succeeding in getting his client acquitted of allegations of plotting to smear political rival Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2010, he defended Panama's Noriega but who was eventually found guilty of money laundering and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Metzner's sudden death shocked the legal world.

"I had strong intellectual admiration for him, but that didn't stop me from thinking -- wrongly it seems -- that he could perhaps lack some heart and sensitivity," his colleague Georges Kiejman said.

In 2010, Metzner bought the Boedic island by which he was found dead, describing it as "a magnificent and remarkable place".

© 2013 AFP

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