French lawyer who represented Noriega, Obiang found dead in sea

Reuters/March 18, 2013

A top French lawyer who counted former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, former prime minister Dominique de Villepin and rogue trade Jérôme Kiervel among his clients, has been found dead in the sea surrounding his private island.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the death of 63-year-old Olivier Metzner, although a letter found at his home in Brittany would indicate that he took his own life.

Often seen with his signature reading glasses and a cigar hanging from his mouth, Metzner was one of France's star lawyers.

He had a succession of high-profile clients throughout his 40-year career.

Among those he represented were:

Deposed Panama president Manuel Noriegawhen he was pursued in France on money-laundering charges;

Equatorial Guinea when French authorities confiscated a number of properties of African leaders in France on the grounds that they were purchased with the proceeds of corruption;

Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin against former president Nicolas Sarkozy in an alleged smear campaign;

Former Société Générale traderJérôme Kerviel in a case involving billions of euros;

Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the daughter of France's richest woman Lilian Bettencourt;

The Church of Scientology, which has clashed several times with the French state, which considers it a sect rather than a religion.

Metzner lived alone, apart from his butler and chauffeur.

He bought the Ile de Boödic in 2010 for 2.5 million euros and had put it on sale for 10 million euros in November 2010.

Asked about the sale recently, he said, "I have another plan. I will be returning to the sea."

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