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Top lawyer found dead

Man who ‘made legal procedure a weapon for justice’ thought to have committed suicide off Brittany island

FRANCE’S most powerful lawyer, Olivier Metzner, has been found dead in the sea off his private island in Brittany.

He had left a suicide note in his house on Boëdic Island in the Golfe de Morbihan. A post-mortem will be held today.

Metzner, 63, last month defended Swiss oil company Vitol over charges of breaking the UN embargo in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and has previously defended rogue Société Générale trader Jerome Kerviel, ex-prime minister Dominique de Villepin, former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega and Continental Airlines (over the Concorde crash).

Rarely seen without his trademark giant cigar, he was known for his ability to pick holes in legal procedures. GQ magazine last year called him the “most powerful lawyer in France”.

He had an ability to quickly understand extremely complex financial cases and became the lawyer of choice for big business and major crime figures.

Head of the Paris bar Christiane Féral-Schuhl called him “one of the greatest case lawyers of our bar” and said he “knew how to make legal procedure a weapon for justice”.

A bachelor, he had recently put his island up for sale saying he had “more interesting plans” but also told Le Figaro he planned “to spend more time at sea”.

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