By AP News Mar 20, 2013 12:44PM UTC
The ‘gangster’s lawyer,’ representing French munitions giant, an apparent suicide in France, reports Asia Sentinel
Olivier Metzner, one of France’s most prominent lawyers and the lead lawyer for the French defense contractor DCN in a case involving massive bribery in Malaysia was found floating near his private island off the Brittany coast Monday, an apparent suicide.
Known as “the gangster’s lawyer” for his defense of some of France’s most notorious criminals, Metzner is at least the 20th person connected to DCN’s activities known to have died since the defense giant began selling armaments around the world in the 1980s. Last Friday, Perumal Balasubramaniam, a Malaysian private detective, 53, died of a heart attack as he was being transported by ambulance to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Balasubramaniam had alleged that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had an affair with Altantuya Shaariibuu, a murdered Mongolian translator and party girl connected to the case. Najib has denied ever knowing the murdered woman or having anything to do with her death.
DCN and its subsidiaries have been suspected of irregularities in the sale of weaponry to the governments of at least Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Chile and Taiwan and possibly others.
Two submarines sold by a DCN subsidiary to the government of Malaysia are the subject of an investigation in a French court in connection with at least US$150 million in bribes allegedly paid to Malaysian politicians with the knowledge of then-French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Two bodyguards for Najib, then Malaysia’s defense minister, were convicted of killing Altantuya in 2006 and blowing her body up with C4 explosives, possibly to obliterate DNA from an unknown figure in Malaysia who got her pregnant. (Asia Sentinel reports on the case can be found here and here and here)
Metzner, 63, was described in news reports in Paris as France’s most famous lawyer. His body was discovered floating off his own private island in the Gulf of Morbihan, a natural harbor on the Brittany coast. Local police said a suicide note had been found in Metzner’s home. There is no reason to suspect Metzner’s death was connected to the Malaysia case, lawyers said.
Metzner in 2010 defended former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who told AFP he was astounded by the sudden death and that it was “incompatible with [Metzner's] personality.” Many others also cast doubt that Metzner would take his own life, AFP reported.
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