PARIS: French lawyer Jacques Verges, nicknamed "Terror's Advocate" for a high-profile client list that included a former Gestapo chief and Marxist militant Carlos the Jackal, has died of a heart attack aged 88, his publisher said.
Widely regarded as one of France's most brilliant, if provocative, lawyers, Verges made a name for himself by accepting clients spurned by others as impossible to defend.
The lawyer died on Thursday in the Parisian house where 18th century philosopher Voltaire once lived, according to his publisher Pierre-Guillaume de Roux.
"Like Voltaire, he cultivated the art of permanent revolt and volte-face," his publisher said in a statement.
He baffled his countrymen by agreeing to defend Klaus Barbie, a Nazi twice sentenced to death in absentia for war crimes.
When Barbie fled France in 1944, Verges was marching to liberate Paris with de Gaulle's Free French forces.
"If he had been at the end of the barrel of my gun, I would have shot him," Verges told Reuters in an interview in 2002.
"Now I am simply doing my job as a lawyer."
As a student leader and member of the French Communist Party, Verges befriended Pol Pot, who as leader of the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the genocide in Cambodia in which 2.2 million people died.
For some of his critics, Verges' client list meant his hands were as soiled as those of the people he defended.
In 2007, a French documentary about his life dubbed him the "Terror's Advocate", a nickname that has stuck ever since. (Reuters)