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French Lawyer Olivier Metzner Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

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March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Olivier Metzner, one of France’s best-known lawyers, was found dead from an apparent suicide, the prosecutor’s office in the Brittany city of Vannes said.

Metzner’s body was found yesterday floating off an island he owned in Brittany’s Bay of Morbihan, and he left behind a note, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said by telephone. The results of an autopsy will be announced today, she said.

Metzner, 63, represented former Societe Generale SA trader Jerome Kerviel, heiress Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, politician Dominique de Villepin, businessmen Loik Le Floch-Prigent and Jean-Marie Messier, as well as Continental Airlines in the 2000 Concorde crash.

“He was one of the greatest case lawyers of our bar who knew best how to make legal procedure a weapon in the service of justice,” Christiane Feral-Schuhl, head of the Paris bar, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

The cigar-chomping, media-friendly Metzner started his career defending gang members, making a name for himself by freeing clients on technicalities. He developed an expertise in financial law in the 1980s as he defended businessmen and politicians caught in political party financing cases.

“Olivier Metzner was totally devoted to his clients to whom he consecrated his extreme intelligence,” Georges Kiejman, a Paris lawyer he often faced in court, told BFM TV. “His death leaves a big loss in the Paris bar.”

There was no answer yesterday outside of normal business hours at the Paris offices of his firm, Metzner & Associes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net