Geneva sex-murder trial hears voice from the grave
The jury hears telephone messages Edouard Stern left on his lover’s and accused killer’s answering machine.Geneva -- The voice of a French banker shot dead by his lover during a sado-masochistic sex session rang out Monday from beyond the grave across a Geneva courtroom, reducing his killer to tears.
The circumstances of the death of Edouard Stern, one of France's wealthiest men whose influential circle of friends included President Nicolas Sarkozy, has rocked Geneva's discreet and tight-knit banking world.
Stern, 50, was found dead at his Geneva penthouse in March 2005 wearing a latex suit, with two bullet holes in his head and another two in his torso.
His 40-year-old lover, Cecile Brossard, eventually confessed to the killing, but her defence maintains it was a crime of passion, and not murder as alleged by prosecutors.
Brossard cried as the jury heard telephone messages left by Stern on her answer phone. "I will always be there for you, and I ask you always to be there for me," the banker said in a message recorded two days before she killed him.
Stern's lawyers allege the heart of the case is one million dollars transferred by the banker to his lover's account, but which he later blocked after changing his mind.
Brossard's defence team, however, argues that he was a manipulator and sexual predator who pushed her into committing a crime of passion that should warrant a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The defence alleges Stern provoked his lover by telling her, "A million dollars is a lot of money to pay for a whore."
Brossard took the stand on Monday, insisting the two deeply loved each other.
"From the beginning (of the trial), there have been words about blood, about money, about sex.... But it's a love story beyond all else," she said, her voice cracking as she explained how the pair exchanged "oaths of eternal love."
The phrase "one million, it's expensive for a whore... exploded in my heart, my head, my mind," she told the jury. "I was like a robot," she said, speaking of "three seconds of (her) life that did not belong (to her)."
"It's awful, all the more awful because Edouard trusted me," she confessed.
In the morning, the court heard tapes secretly recorded by police of conversations Brossard had with friends and relatives in which she expressed anger at police suspicions and lamented her lover's death.
"I think the murder was staged," she told one. To another she described feeling threatened and claimed, "it's the mafia who knocked him off."
"Everyone knew that he had received death threats.... Edouard always had a weapon on him. The other night it was the first thing he said to me: 'I have forgotten my gun at the office'," she told Stern's sister.
Some confidantes were heard trying to reassure her, convinced of her innocence. "I would do anything for you... I know it's not you," one said.
On the opening day of the trial, Brossard told the court Stern died during a sado-masochistic sex session when she grabbed his gun and shot him straight between the eyes.
Stern took over Banque Stern in 1976 and improved its fortunes before selling it in 1985.
Denis Rousseau / AFP / Expatica