• France's news in English

Top Corsican lawyer gunned down by hitman

AFP · 16 Oct 2012, 18:10

Published: 16 Oct 2012 18:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sollacaro, an advocate who defended both Corsican nationalists and some of the island's most notorious criminal figures, was killed after stopping his car at a service station in Ajaccio on his way to his office in the centre of the town.

A witness said two motorcyclists opened fire on the 63-year-old and then fled. Ten cartridges were found at the scene.

The slaying of Sollacaro came shortly after the bullet-ridden body of a former nationalist activist, Jean-Dominique Allegrini-Simonetti, 50, was discovered in his car near the village of Balagne in the mountainous centre of the island.

Police do not believe the two assassinations are directly linked but there may be a common thread as other recent killings have all been ascribed to score-settling between rival criminal gangs, some of whom overlap with sections of the nationalist movement.

The killing of Sollacaro will be investigated by a team of detectives (JIRS) based in Marseille who have handled previous probes into the island's criminal underworld.

The lawyer represented a number of the figures who have been subject to JIRS investigations and were also former allies from the separatist Movement for Self Determination (MPA).

Among them were the former chairman of Ajaccio's chamber of commerce and convicted drug dealer Gilbert Casanova and Antoine Nivaggioni, the late founder of a security company, SMS, which was at the centre of a vast corruption scandal related to tenders for state contracts on the island.

Sollacaro had also represented Robert Feliciaggi, Michel Tomi, Jose Menconi and Francis Mariani, all figures suspected or known to be involved in mafia activities on the island.

He is best known however for defending Yvan Colonna, the nationalist currently serving a life sentence for the 1998 assassination of France's top official on the island, the prefect Claude Erignac.

The lawyer is believed to have escaped an earlier assassination attempt in 2009 when a heavily-armed man involved in the SMS affair was arrested near his home.

A huge, charismatic man with a love of the good life, Sollacaro had a gift for court-room polemics, most famously comparing the judges in Colonna's appeal hearing to the Myanmar junta.

In recent years he had reduced his legal activity in favour of real estate investment in the area of Porto-Vecchio in the south of Corsica.

Story continues below…

He leaves a wife and two children: a son who is himself an advocate and a daughter who was due to take her final bar exams this week.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls voiced his shock at the latest killings in Corsica and promised a crackdown.

"When the gowns of an advocate are attacked, it is a symbol of the rule of law that is being challenged," he said

"The state will not forget the cruel price that its servants have paid (in Corsica) and will mobilise to secure the end to this violence that is dearly wished by the vast majority of the population."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available