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Hundreds attend funeral of slain Corsican lawyer

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-10-20

Hundreds attended Friday's funeral of respected defence lawyer Antoine Sollacaro killed in a Mafia-style hit that has profoundly shocked the small Mediterranean island.

Legal professionals came from all over France and Corsica to join friends and family at the funeral of slain Corsican lawyer Antoine Sollacaro on Friday, in the small southern coastal village of Propriano.

Sollacaro was brutally gunned-down in an apparent gangland “settling of scores” on Tuesday in broad daylight at a petrol station near his offices. Sollacaro was famed not only for defending notorious Corsican nationalists and separatists, but also as a passionate and dogged defender of his clients. As a mark of respect, all the lawyers at the funeral wore their court robes.

Police have yet to pin down a motive for the killing that has dominated the front pages in France and Corsica, sparking fear and concern about the island’s mounting crime wave.

Crowds waiting to pay their respects to this highly-respected lawyer spilled out into the Church’s courtyard in the mid-afternoon sun, as his wooden coffin was carried into the ancient church by his fellow lawyers. His coffin was placed in front of the altar and draped in his robes of office.

Vast crowds paid their condolences

After the service, long lines formed to pay the traditional Corsican condolences, to the women of his family inside the church and to the men outside.

Among them was Jacques, 81, a retired shepherd who was one of many villagers present.

“I don't know what's happened to Corsica,” he told FRANCE 24. “Nothing will ever be the same. Murders in the past would have been over questions of honour, but now life has become so cheap.

“Young people don't realise that if there are differences in this life, they can be worked out. Bullets are not the only way to resolve differences.”

Pierre-Louis Maurel, former president of the lawyer’s association in Bastia in northern Corsica and a lifelong personal friend of Sollacaro's, told FRANCE 24 that he and his fellow lawyers were worried that the killing, as well as being a "deeply tragic event", was also an attack on the freedom of the legal profession.

“Antoine was a lawyer, a defender of men," Maurel – who wore his court robes as a mark of respect - said. "This murder marks a new low in Corsica's criminal culture; it may mean that lawyers may not be able to work freely here any more. We are all profoundly shocked.”

Date created : 2012-10-19

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