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French woman says SM murder was a 'crime of passion'

Video by Luke BROWN , FRANCE 2

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-10

Cécile Brossard said her murder of French banking heir Edouard Stern was a "crime of passion" at the opening of her high-profile trial in Geneva. She admitted shooting him four times after a kinky sex session and an argument over $1 million.

AFP - A weeping Frenchwoman pledged to "explain the truth" at the start of her trial on Wednesday for the fatal shooting of her rich banker lover during a sado-masochistic session in his Geneva penthouse.

Cecile Brossard, 40, has admitted killing Edouard Stern, 50, who was France's 38th richest person when he was found dead in March 2005 wearing a latex suit, with two bullet holes in the head and two in the torso.

Following the testimony of Stern's widow Beatrice, from whom he was separated, and their two adult children -- Mathilde, 24, and Louis, 22 -- the judge asked Brossard if she had anything to say to the victim's family.

"I would like to ask for forgiveness, but we cannot seek forgiveness for something so abominable," Brossard replied. "The only thing that I can do is to try to explain the truth."

Brossard, whose face was marked by heavy shadows under her eyes, described Stern as "an intelligent man, refined, extraordinary in every way."

"My heart is full of pain, but my tears could never lessen the tears of the children. I don't want this trial to sully his memory, but only to say how I got here," added Brossard, who was wearing a black top and grey pants.

Brossard's defence team argues she was pushed into committing a crime of passion that should warrant a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Stern family lawyers contend she had simply murdered him.

The court also heard testimony behind closed doors from the Stern children, who were visibly emotional.

The Stern family's lawyer Marc Bonnant had asked the court for the children's testimony to be heard in private out of "respect for the pain" they were feeling. The judge called the request "unusual" but accepted it.

Stern's youngest son, 18-year-old Henri, who was not present, also gave a written statement, which was read out to the jury.

During her testimony, Stern's ex-wife described him as an "extremely nice man."

"He had his faults but he was rather exceptional. He could be hot tempered, quick tempered. He was very demanding with himself and with those he loved," she said.

The scion of one of France's wealthiest families, Stern took over the venerable but then-flagging Banque Stern in 1976 and turned its fortunes around before selling it in 1985.

His circle of powerful and influentual friends included Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected France's president in May 2007, and other kingpins of politics and finance.

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 during over the course of four years during the destructive liaison.

Her lawyer's allege that Stern provoked her by saying: "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.

 

Date created : 2009-06-10

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