Witness calls French banker shot dead by lover 'manipulative'
A prominent French banker who was shot dead by his lover during a sado-masochistic sex session was a Jekyll and Hyde character who was "calculating and manipulative," witnesses told a Geneva court Friday.Geneva - A prominent French banker who was shot dead by his lover during a sado-masochistic sex session was a Jekyll and Hyde character who was "calculating and manipulative," witnesses told a Geneva court Friday.
Edouard Stern, 50, scion of one of France's wealthiest families and whose influential circle of friends included President Nicolas Sarkozy, was found dead in March 2005 wearing a latex suit, with two bullet holes in the head and two in the torso.
His lover, Cecile Brossard, has admitted killing Stern at his Geneva penthouse apartment, but her defence has said it was a "crime of passion" and not murder, as alleged by prosecutors.
On Friday, a Parisian art dealer told the court Stern was "incredibly charming" but also "calculating and manipulative."
He said he witnessed Brossard's "mental torture" and described the banker as extremely possessive.
"He followed her, pestered her -- her and all those around her. It was diabolical," the art trader told the court.
Asked about written commitments made by the banker to marry his mistress and offer her a million dollars, the art dealer said he "didn't believe it, knowing Edouard."
"When Edouard gives his word?" the dealer exclaimed. "Maybe it's true when he gives it... but he is quick to go back on it."
A craftsman employed by Stern in his Paris home said Stern had "two faces," one charming and the other terrifying.
He said he told Brossard: "'You cannot carry on like this, something bad will happen one day.'"
A businessman in his 70s, a friend of the couple who remains close to Brossard, described their relationship as "cat and mouse.".
"Edouard Stern had his prey and wanted to have it completely at his mercy. He was the master," the businessman said.
The banker's mistress was a woman driven "to the brink of suicide", he went on.
The million dollars handed over by Stern "would not interest her" if it was not a token of love, he added.
Earlier, an aristocrat friend of the lovers told the court: "Cecile Brossard was very much in love.
"She was not interested" by the money, he added.
These statements contradict the argument put forward by the Stern family lawyers, who claim Brossard murdered the banker because he blocked a million dollars paid into a bank account in the name of his mistress.
The defence claims the killing was a "crime of passion", punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years - half the sentence for murder.
According to Brossard's lawyers, she was pushed over the edge by her lover.
An attractive young, blonde woman told the court she had sexual relations with the banker and his mistress, at the request of Cecile Brossard, who was her friend.
After shying away from a first meeting, she then accepted "to please Cecile, who was clearly under pressure from Edouard, who wanted to act out his fantasy", the court heard.
The young woman claimed she was not shocked by the staging of the threesome in a hotel: the two women were dressed as schoolgirls and the sex games were spiced up with sado-masochistic accessories.
She appeared disturbed by the behaviour of Edouard Stern, who hardly opened his mouth and who, during a break, read a magazine which included "a ranking of the 100 richest people".
"He was a bit disappointed to not be in it," she noted, causing some laughter in the court's public gallery.
Before exiting the court, she directed a friendly wink at the accused.