Sex, wealth and latex in high-profile Swiss murder trial

9th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

The trial of Cecile Brossard for Edouard Stern's murder will disclose lurid details of their sado-masochist affair.

Geneva -- A murder trial in Switzerland on Wednesday will focus on the sado-masochist liaison between one of France's most influential bankers and his lover, who is accused of killing him.

Lurid details of the couple's relationship are set to unfurl during the trial, four years after banker Edouard Stern was found dead clad in a latex bodysuit, with two bullets in the head and two more in the body.

The case centres on whether Stern drove the woman to kill him by harassing her or whether she was after his money.

The affair has inspired two books and numerous theories.

Cecile Brossard, now 40, was arrested in March 2005, and according to the judge in the case then, has admitted to having shot her lover. Her lawyers, however, argue that it was a crime of passion.

The firearm used was owned by Stern and was retrieved from Lake Geneva, where Brossard said she had dumped it.

When appearing at a procedural hearing in late 2007, Brossard wore her hair in a bun and appeared thin and gaunt, a shadow of the woman who was involved in Geneva's sado-masochistic scene.

Her lawyers said that, since her arrest, she has been admitted on several occasions to a psychiatric hospital for treatment for depression and suicide attempts.

Since the discovery of Stern's body in his luxury penthouse apartment in the centre of Geneva, speculation has been rife over the hidden life of the person who was once France's 38th richest man.

He counted Nicolas Sarkozy, now president of France, and former prime minister Laurent Fabius among his friends and was the son-in-law of Michel David-Weill, chairman of French merchant bank Lazard.

Stern was separated from his wife, who lives in New York with their three children. He was David-Weill's heir apparent before he left Lazard in 1997 to run his own investment fund.

Stern family lawyers point to a simple motive that they say drove Brossard to the killing.

One portrayed Brossard as a greedy and cunning woman who murdered her lover out of spite and for money.

He accused her of "stirring up the fantasies of a 50-year-old man," who became dependant on a "sexually deviant little blonde from the suburbs."

For Stern's lawyers, at the heart of the case is a million dollars which was transferred by the banker into his lover's account, but which he later blocked after changing his mind.

Brossard's attorneys, on the other hand, have described the banker as an unscrupulous manipulator and sexual predator.

They will seek to use the 10-day trial to argue that Stern pushed Brossard to her limit over the course of four years during the destructive liaison.

Her lawyer's allege that Stern told her "A million dollars is a lot of money to pay for a whore."

According to them, his words led Brossard to grab the gun that was in the bedroom.

Her lawyer Pascal Maurer argued the shooting was a crime of passion which should be limited to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, or half of the maximum sentence for murder.

He said that Brossard was the toy of Stern who repeatedly humiliated and harassed her, subjecting her to "a moral degradation, to physical degradation."

According to Alec Reymond, another of her lawyers, "very seriously deviant images that Edouard Stern had downloaded on his computer" led to the conclusion that he is "not the poor victim who was manipulated by an uncontrollable sexual deviant."

AFP / Expatica

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