French lawyer shoots colleague then kills himself

Melun (France) (AFP) - A French lawyer with far-right leanings on Thursday shot and wounded his supervisor in his office in a court complex before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

Joseph Scipilliti, 63, had come for a disciplinary meeting with Henrique Vannier, head of the bar in Melun, south of Paris -- who was about to suspend him.

In the office situated within the town's court buildings, he fired three shots at Vannier, hitting him in the chest, shoulder and hip, before shooting himself dead, a local prosecutor said.

Vannier, 43, was said to be in a critical but stable condition after being taken to a nearby hospital, and was expected to survive.

It later emerged that Scipilliti, a known depressive with debt problems and far-right sympathies, had sent a 240-page diary the night before to several people, suggesting the attack was premeditated.

"Suicide on its own achieves nothing. A few days later no one will remember," he wrote in the diary, which was also published online.

"To make people take notice, you must make a big noise."

Scipilliti had been facing disciplinary proceedings for a year over verbal and written threats he had made to Vannier, a local prosecutor said.

In May, the local lawyer's council had ruled that he should be barred from practising for three years.

"Here I am at the point of satisfying those who gave me a reputation as a barbarian... For once, I will really lack decorum," he wrote in the diary.

- 'The ideal candidate' -

He had defended a number of anti-Islamic groups, including the founder of a small group called Republican Resistance, whose founder organised a sausage and wine event to "counter the Islamist offensive".

"He was our first lawyer. Quite spontaneously, he offered to defend us," said Pierre Cassen, founder of another right-wing group, Secular Response, who described Scipilliti as "hot-blooded" and "profoundly revolted by injustice".

In his diary, Scipilliti sounded off against the "farce" of the legal system and the lack of recognition of right-wing French figures.

He described his victim as someone who "embodies everything I have fought since the beginning of my career."

"He is the ideal candidate," he added, chillingly.

Scipilliti also described recurrent health and financial problems, having been declared bankrupt in 2007.

Many journalists were at the courthouse on Thursday for a hearing into a baby that was found in Fontainebleau forest in 2013.

The shots were not heard from the courtroom, but the judge hearing the case suspended proceedings due to "serious events", an AFP journalist said.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira expressed her "dread" at the "terrible attack".

"We are all in shock," said Sophie Prunier, treasurer at the court.

Security guards at the court said they had not searched Scipilliti as he was such a familiar face.

"He was a polite person, who says hello, just as he did this morning," said one guard.