French star lawyer found dead near private island-home

A French star lawyer whose clients ranged from Panama's ex-dictator Manuel Noriega to former prime minister Dominique de Villepin was Sunday found dead near his private island-home in Brittany, sources and officials said.

Sources told AFP that the body of Olivier Metzner was found floating in the Gulf of Morbihan, a natural harbour on France's western coast, on Sunday morning. A suicide letter was also found in his home, they said.

The gendarmerie confirmed the death but declined to give any details surrounding it.

During his career, Metzner, 63, succeeded in getting de Villepin acquitted in a case where he was accused of plotting to smear political rival Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2010, Metzner also defended Panama's Noriega. Noriega was eventually found guilty of money laundering, however, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.