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Drama in French court house: lawyer shoots bar chairman, kills himself

A photo of the courthouse in Melun, located in the south-west of Paris, where the victim, Henrique Vannier worked.
A photo of the courthouse in Melun, located in the south-west of Paris, where the victim, Henrique Vannier worked. Google Street View/Screen capture

France's youngest chairman of the bar was shot and seriousy wounded by a lawyer facing supension, in a dramatic shoot-out at a court house near Paris, police sources said on Thursday.

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Gun shots were fired early on Thursday morning at a courthouse in Melun, on the outskirts of Paris.

Joseph Scipilliti, a barrister from the south-western town, stormed into the office of Henrique Vannier, France's youngest chairman of the bar, and opened fire on him three times.

Scipilliti then turned his gun on himself and took his own life. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

The bar chairman is said to be in a critical but stable condition. He is currently being treated at a nearby hospital in Creteil.

The two men are believed to have had strained relations for some time. The lawyer was in fact barred entry to the courthouse. Sources indicate he'd written threatening letters to Vannier, who wanted to suspend him for three years.

According to French news agency AFP, the bar chairman was meant to notify Scipilliti of his supension this morning before he was shot.

The reason for the decision to suspend Scipilliti, who is now dead, has not been revealed.

When Henrique Vannier joined the profession in 2008, he was the youngest bar chairman in France.

Typically the role of the president of the bar is to oversee conflicts between lawyers and their clients, and to ensure the smooth running of the law society where they work.

Vannier aged 43 is described by his colleagues, as being open-minded and always ready to lend a willing ear.

Justice minister Christiane Taubira expressed her "horror" at this "awful attack." Meanwhile the president of France's National Council of Barristers, Pascal Eydoux, said he was "dumbfounded, shocked and stunned."

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