Top French lawyer Olivier Metzner’s body found near private island
2013 03 17

From: guardian.co.uk

French lawyer Olivier Metzner’s body was found floating near his private island in Brittany. A suicide was reportedly found at his house.


Figure nicknamed the ’gangsters’ lawyer’, whose clients included Manuel Noriega, discovered near Brittany island of Boëdic

One of the giants of the French legal system was found dead near his private island in Brittany on Sunday morning. A suicide note was discovered at his home nearby.

Olivier Metzner, 63, nicknamed the "gangsters’ lawyer", was a larger-than-life figure known for his spirited defence of high-profile and controversial defendants including the Panamanian former dictator Manuel Noriega, the "rogue trader" Jérôme Kerviel and Continental Airlines, accused of causing the catastrophic Concorde crash in 2000.

In recent years, he had argued for the former prime minister Dominique de Villepin in the Clearstream scandal, represented rock star Bertrand Cantat when he was accused of killing his actor girlfriend, and argued the case of Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers who tried to have her ailing mother, the the L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, declared a ward of court.

Named France’s most powerful lawyer by GQ magazine last year, Metzner was often to be seen standing at the top of the Palais de Justice’s monumental steps, puffing away on his trademark cigar. Occasionally, he would ignore the no-smoking signs and light up inside, confident that no court official or police officer would dare challenge him.

Outside the courts, where he would pick holes in legal procedure to get his clients off the hook, often in the most blunt of terms and so successfully that Libération described him as the "criminal fraternity’s specialist", Metzner was a discreet figure.

Born in 1949 to dairy farmers in Normandy, whose ancestors had fled Prussia in the late 19th century, Metzner described himself as the product of a modest but "rigorous Normand and Protestant education". All three Metzner children escaped the countryside; his brother became a scientist and his sister a teacher in Canada.

He chose law after devouring the works of Kafka and reading a story in his local paper about a shepherd who had been sentenced to death.

"He was from the mountains and incapable of explaining his defence in any understandable language. It made me want to be an interpreter for those who had difficult expressing themselves in front of the court and at the same time explain the justice system to them, because the incomprehension goes both ways," he once said.

After studying in Caen, he headed for Paris, saying two decades in the "damp countryside" was long enough, and a career that was rewarding in every sense. Decades after his first case, in which he successfully defended a thief, he admitted his hourly fee had risen to €450 (£390). His last case, last month, was defending the Swiss petrol group Vitol, accused of breaking the United Nations "food for oil" embargo in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Metzner never married and described himself as "leftwing at heart".

In 2010 he bought Boëdic Island in the Morbihan Gulf in Brittany, which he described as a "magnificent, remarkable place". But at the end of last year he announced his intention to sell it, saying he had "more interesting plans". "I am a man of projects," he told AFP in November.

His body was found at about 10am on Sunday floating near the island.

Source: guardian.co.uk



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »