Defense Attorney Is 15th Victim Targeted by Corsican Mafia This Year

Portrait of Yvan Colonna in St Romain, Rhone-Alpes, France. Colonna was one of Sollacaro’s previous clients.
Photo: Flickr.com/Abode of Chaos

In what France 24 describes as a “mafia-style hit,” respected attorney Antoine Sollacaro was gunned down on Tuesday, October 16 in a shocking act of violence on the French Mediterranean island. Sollacaro, 63, was the 15th victim of Corsican mafia violence this year.

Described as a “passionate and dogged” defender of his clients, Sollacaro, the president of the bar association of Corsica, was a high-profile figure in the island’s separatist movement and defended many notorious Corsican nationalists. One of his most famous clients was Yvan Colonna, who is currently serving a life sentence for murdering French prefect Claude Erignac in 1998.

While police have yet to identify a clear motive for the act, it is suspected the famed attorney was targeted in a “settling of scores” by an increasingly dangerous Corsican crime syndicate.

At approximately 9:00 am on Tuesday, October 16, Sollacaro stopped at a garage near Ajaccio, Corsica to buy a newspaper. As his Porsche slowed, a motorbike carrying two men pulled up alongside his vehicle. According to a report by The Guardian, the passenger jumped off the motorbike and shot Sollacaro six times in the head and neck with an automatic pistol before the two men sped away.  The shooter and his accomplice had been tailing Sollacaro on his way to work.

Sollacaro’s death came an hour after the body of Jean-Dominique Allegrini Simonetti, a former Corsican nationalist militant, was discovered in the island’s mountainous region. Simonetti was 50 years old.

“I don’t know what’s happened to Corsica,” an 81-year-old retired shepherd told France 24 at Sollacaro’s October 19 funeral. “Nothing will ever be the same […] Life has become so cheap.”

Corsica’s organized crime syndicates have long been tied to nationalist and separatist movements, though the last ten years has seen a “new breed” of criminal gang organizations.  According to France 24, a wave of assassinations targeting senior figures in the long-established Corsican Mafia left a dangerous “power vacuum,” with younger gangs competing to dominate the island’s drug-trafficking, racketeering, and property speculation.

Speaking on the recent rise in organized criminal activity, Corsican Assembly President Dominque Bucchini explained to France 24 that the island has become a perfect storm for violent gang culture, citing the sizeable gap between the rich and the poor (France’s largest wealth disparity), the aging population, high suicide rate, and terrible education rankings. The island is now known as France’s “murder capital,” and has a higher rate of violent crime than notorious Sicily, Italy.

“A criminal is a criminal, full stop,” said Bucchini. “[These gangs] are targeting the very establishment that is trying to resolve Corsica’s problems.  They are killing politicians, lawyers – even women. […] If this gangsterism continues, it will kill our future.”

Comments

  1. You really believe it was a mafia killing?

Trackbacks

  1. […] days ago, the murder of Colonna’s lawyer, Mr. Sollacaro, launched the debate again. Killed by nine bullets, including five in his head, he was one of […]

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