(October 18, 1954 - February 28, 2005) was a French banker. Born
in Paris, he was son of the banker Antoine Jean Elie Stern and
Christiane Laroche, and was a personal friend of French President
Relatively unknown outside finance circles
until his death, Stern shot to worldwide fame when he was found
shot dead in his apartment in Geneva, Switzerland, after a
sadomasochistic bondage session wearing a head-to-toe latex
Édouard Stern was 38th in a list of France's
richest citizens. He was born in 1954 to one of France’s
wealthiest families, the owners of a private investment house
called Banque Stern, and was known for his abrasive personality.
He studied at the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences
Economiques et Commerciales in Paris. Together with his uncle, his
ousted his father at Banque Stern and then sold the family bank.
He then became a partner at Lazard Frères before creating his own
investment fund, IRR Capital (the initials stand for "Investments
In 2004 he was part of a suit brought against
the French company Rhodia, accusing the company of false
accounting and other malfeasance.
He was married to Béatrice David-Weil, who
lived in New York with their three children. Béatrice David-Weil
is a daughter of Michel David-Weill and a granddaughter of Pierre
David-Weill, who were both partners in Lazard Frères.
Édouard Stern was found shot to death on March
1, 2005 in Geneva. His body was found in his bedroom, clothed in a
flesh-coloured head-to-toe latex catsuit with a dildo inserted in
him, and shot four times; police initially thought the latex body
suit may have been a ruse by the murderers to confuse the police,
but it later became clear that Stern had been involved in a
sadomasochistic bondage session.
Swiss authorities arrested his long-time lover,
Cécile Brossard, over the killing. Society columnist Taki
Theodoracopulos has reported in The Spectator that Stern, in
addition to having many girlfriends, was bisexual and had a
boyfriend, and that he was a "rough trade" sex connoisseur.
Brossard, 40, was convicted and on June 18,
2009 was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. In
addition, the Swiss court ordered Brossard to pay Stern's children
one Swiss franc for "moral damage". The Wall Street Journal has
reported that "[Stern's] family hopes people will stop talking
about the case". Cécile Brossard was freed on parole in November
2010, after spending five years in detention (including four years
while awaiting trial).
The French film "Une Histoire d'Amour''.
(titled in English 'Tied') is a direct telling of the story,
although the ending there could imply death by dehydration during
the Mistress' long plane flight rather than by (a blank) gunshot.
The story of Édouard Stern is cited as the inspiration for Olivier
Assayas' 2008 film Boarding Gate. The death of Édouard Stern was
directly parodied on the FX animated series Archer in the third
season episode "Lo Scandalo".
Call girl jailed for
eight years after shooting dead billionaire who called her a whore
By Ian Sparks - DailyMail.co.uk
June 19, 2009
A former prostitute who shot dead her
billionaire lover after he called her a 'whore' during a bondage
session has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.
Cecile Brossard shot banker Edouard Stern four
times while he was tied to a chair wearing a latex bodysuit.
A court ruled that she acted out of hatred and
greed, and convicted her of murder rather than the lesser 'crime
The lovers had previously fallen out after Mr
Stern took back $1million he had given her as a gift.
Moments before he died, the 50-year-old taunted
her with the words: 'A million dollars is a lot to pay for a
Mr Stern came from a centuries-old French
banking dynasty and was one of the country's richest men. The
father of three was a friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Lawyers described his four-year affair with
Brossard as 'passionate, and full of emotional blackmail'.
His secret life of sadomasochistic sex was only
exposed after he was killed with his own gun at his penthouse flat
in Geneva in February 2005.
The high court in Geneva heard that Brossard,
40, cleaned up the crime scene and threw the weapon into a lake
before fleeing to Italy and then Australia.
Just ten days later, she asked Mr Stern's
children to return the $1million, which the prosecution described
as an act of 'incredibly duplicity'.
Brossard, who is French, told the court: 'On
the night it happened, I felt an explosion in my head and took a
gun he kept in his bedside drawer.
'I pointed the weapon at his face and fired the
first shot. The gun must have been six inches from his face. I
think I hit him between the eyes. He got up, turned half way round
and fell. I fired another round at his head.'
Mr Stern was then hit twice more in the torso.
Brossard begged forgiveness and said: 'It was a
moment of passion and madness. I did not intend for him to die.'
Lawyers alleged Brossard planned the killing
for financial gain, and described her as 'sexually deviant' and
'She stirred up the fantasies of a 50-year-old
man, who became dependent on a sexually deviant little blonde from
the suburbs,' said Marc Bonnant.
The jury decided her behaviour was 'cynical and
manipulative', and that she could have 'run away, cried or
collapsed' instead of shooting Mr Stern three more times.
She escaped the maximum 20-year jail term
because of diminished responsibility.
With good behaviour, she could be free in two
years, having served four years on remand.
Former call girl pleads guilty to killing
billionaire French banker after kinky sex session
By Peter Allen - DailyMail.co.uk
June 11, 2009
A former call girl pleaded guilty to killing a
billionaire French banker after kinky sex and an argument over $1
million, saying the crime was 'not a question of money but of the
Cecile Brossard interrupted proceedings to tell
the packed Geneva courtroom that she had committed an 'abominable
act' against her lover Edouard Stern, and wanted the full truth to
Stern, 50, was found dead in his locked luxury
Geneva flat on March 1, 2005. Four bullet holes pierced the
head-to-toe flesh-coloured latex outfit he still wore from the
My heart is full of remorse and pain. I have
come to explain myself, not to defend myself, and say how it
happened,' a sobbing Brossard said in a barely audible voice.
'I know it was my fault.'
She expressed regret that his three adult
children - two of whom were allowed to testify privately earlier -
would never again be able to celebrate Christmas with their
'I want to tell them the truth, not destroy
Edouard or dirty his name,' the 40-year-old said. He had been the
'most intelligent, refined, cultivated and marvellous man' she had
Marc Bonnant, the Stern family lawyer,
intervened to say: 'If he was such a marvellous man, you shouldn't
have shot him'.
Stern's family, including his former wife
Beatrice, was seated just a few feet behind Brossard, who wore
grey trousers and a blue vest, her blond hair in a tight bun.
'The defence will plead it was a crime of
passion,' Brossard's defence lawyer Alec Reymond told the
Court papers showed Brossard confessed to
having killed Stern with his own revolver after an argument over
$1 million he put into her Swiss account after she demanded it as
'proof of his love for her'.
He blocked it after she refused to return it.
Investigating officers who testified on
Wednesday quoted Brossard as having said she shot Stern after he
told her: 'One million dollars is a lot of money to pay for a
The banker was sitting with his hands tied,
wearing a full latex bodysuit, when she first shot him between the
eyes with his own handgun.
Somehow he got to his feet so she shot him
twice in the torso. Brossard finished the billionaire off with a
bullet to the temple.
Stern, scion of a banking family and the 38th
richest man in France, counted President Nicolas Sarkozy and
Socialist politician Laurent Fabius among his friends.
He was once heir apparent to his father-in-law,
Michel David-Weill of the investment bank Lazard Freres.
Known for his abrasive style, he ran an
investment fund from Geneva and gave advice on some of Europe's
largest mergers. His murder rocked the staid Swiss city's
Beatrice Stern, his wife from 1983 to 1999,
testified that his children still spoke every day of their father.
'He was their hero.' she said.
Edouard Stern had an 'explosive' character at
times but quickly regained his composure and was not a
manipulator, she said.
'Nothing could have justified killing him. It
made no sense.'
Two police officers testified that Brossard was
arrested two weeks after the crime after fleeing to Italy and
The murder weapon, which she had thrown into
Lake Geneva, and the dominatrix clothing she had worn were also
It was Brossard who introduced the French
banker to sado-masochism. She also acted as a go-between,
supplying him with women and men she knew.
The couple were known to have taken part in
threesomes, at other times she watched His sexual appetite was
said to be enormous and the couple regularly took part in
They broke up six or seven times. When she
didn’t respond to his calls, he would insist on talking. He is
said to have harassed her with phone calls, e-mails, text
Chief prosecutor Daniel Zappelli has said he
will seek a conviction for murder, for which the maximum penalty
is 20 years' imprisonment, rather than a crime of passion, which
has a 10-year maximum sentence.
A verdict is expected on June 19.
Risqué Management: The
Murder of Edouard Stern
By Bruce Gain - TruTV.com
Colleagues became concerned when Edouard Stern,
one of France's richest men, did not show up for a business
appointment March 1, 2005. The next day, fearing that he might
have suffered a heart attack when he still did not answer his
phone, they contacted his cleaning service and gained entry to his
apartment. Inside, they found Edouard's hooded body on the floor
of his bedroom, clad in a latex bodysuit and harness and lying in
a mess of drying blood. The autopsy report would later reveal that
Edouard had been shot four times in the head and body at
Edouard's ultra-luxe apartment complex was
located in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Geneva.
Immaculately clean, Geneva is a city in which cars seen speeding
or scofflaws discarding a half-eaten apple on the sidewalk can
spur vigilant citizens to call the police who respond to such
leads and assiduously seek the culprits.
With nearby snow-capped mountains and Lake
Geneva--Lake Leman in the French spoken in that part of
Switzerland--dotted with luxury yachts, Geneva is one of Europe's
most pristine major cities, a city where vast fortunes can be
discreetly handled by the many banks whose account holders'
privacy and identities are jealously guarded. Bank officials there
and throughout Switzerland pride themselves on the prudent
delicacy they offer their clients from around the world.
Geneva is a remarkably safe city compared to
major metropolitan areas in the rest of the world, a place where
millionaires can freely walk the streets or drive around in a
Rolls-Royce or a Bentley--Edouard himself had owned one at the
time of his death--at any hour of the day or night with little
worry about violent crime. But even in this seemingly secure
environment, Edouard had not felt safe. He had fortified his
luxury apartment with extra security alarms and video cameras both
around and inside the building he owned, at 17 Rue Adrien-Lachenal.
Stern lived on the fifth floor, surrounded above and below by
other wealthy tenants. On the ground floor, there was a Geneva
Stern had also secured a concealed firearms
permit and owned several handguns prior to his death. Getting a
handgun permit in Europe is difficult, but Stern, the scion of an
eminent French banking family linked by blood and breeding to the
business and political leaders of France, had connections in high
places. Edouard also had had reason to apply for a gun permit: he
had received several death threats in the months and weeks
preceding his murders.
The News Quickly Spreads
The day Stern's body was discovered, the
normally sedate city of Geneva was uncharacteristically busy and
crowded. The second press day of the Geneva Motor Show, one of the
world's largest car industry conventions, was just ending.
Thousands of journalists, car industry executives, and exhibitors
created traffic jams. Anyone stuck in traffic that afternoon and
early evening with the radio on quickly learned that a major
financier had been found dead under mysterious circumstances that
day. The news traveled fast; the rumors of the state in which his
body had been discovered, with their redolence of sadomasochism or
other fetishism, proved too salacious even for the normally
restrained and circumspect authorities of Geneva and were soon
leaked and broadcast around the world.
Stern's immediate family was in United States. His ex-wife,
Beatrice David-Weill, and their three children lived in New York.
She had become nervous when Stern had not called her as he had
continued to do on a daily basis, even after their divorce.
Stern's grandmother also lived in New York, where she had
emigrated after fleeing Nazi rule in Europe during World War II.
A Thousand Enemies
accumulated a large number of enemies and detractors--both
disgruntled employees and professional rivals during his life. He
attended but did not graduate from the l'ecole Superieure des
Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (ESSEC), one of France's
Grande Ecoles-- "Great Schools" which the vast majority of
France's elite politicians and business leaders attend for
university training. Dropping out of ESSEC in 1976 because of
financial difficulties at Banque Stern, the cornerstone of the
family fortune, Edouard, with the aid of his uncles and
grandfather, took control of the bank from his father, whom he
would ultimately fire. Edouard and his father would not speak to
each other for 15 years, until a partial reconciliation at his
Repairing the family
fortunes, Edouard sold the assets of Banque Stern to a group of
Lebanese investors in 1984, but then founded a new Banque Stern
that he would sell in turn to Swiss investors in 1988. At that
time, the Stern family ranked 38th among France's wealthiest
During his tenure at Banque Stern,
Edouard's management style of his subordinates was just as
abrasive and aggressive as his high-charged investment strategies
and hostile take-over schemes. Edouard reportedly would abruptly
fire staffers on the spot, often more out of pique than for shoddy
job performance. One trader in France was reportedly fired for
refusing to work while on vacation, in a country where holidays
are sacrosanct. Much of his frenetic work pace was reportedly
devoted to petty in-fighting, seeking to get back at subordinates
and colleagues who he thought had crossed him.
Marrying the daughter of Michel David-Weill, the Chairman of the
historic international banking house of Lazard Freres in 1984,
Edouard in 1992 became a senior executive at the globally renowned
firm. Seen as the heir apparent to David-Weill, Edouard
nonetheless left the firm abruptly in 1997, following a series of
personality clashes between him, David-Weill and other executive
board members. Edouard's abrasive personality and style were
reportedly out of sync with the bank's more polished culture.
Leaving Lazard, Edouard in 1998 started International Real Returns
(IRR), a private equity fund which invested in a range of
ventures, from restaurants to major stock holdings in
multinational companies. One such investment involved a scheme
which reportedly linked Stern to eastern European executives with
ties to the Russian mafia.
In 2003, IRR took a
huge financial hit after losing most of the close to $90 million
it had invested in the French chemical company Rhodia. When
Rhodia's stock tanked, Edouard sued, claiming Rhodia executives
had misled investors about the company's true value and had
misstated its financial earnings. Stern, along with fellow
investor Hughes de Lasteyrie du Saillant (who died in 2007 of a
heart attack) also met with then Manhattan District Attorney
Robert Morgenthau about Rhodia, which was was traded on the New
York Stock Exchange as well as the French Bourse.
Stern's lawsuit was an uphill battle, though. France's economic
and political leadership have been closely intertwined for decades
under an economic policy called dirigisme, in which technocratic
elites from government, finance and industry, all products of the
Grande Ecoles, move professionally with ease between the public
and private sectors and confer closely to optimize economic
conditions. The head of Rodia's audit committee Thierry Breton,
for instance, became France's finance minister in 2005 shortly
after leaving Rhodia.
Edouard reportedly had
expressed concerns about his safety due to his involvement with
the lawsuit against Rhodia. After Edouard's death, de Lasteyrie du
Saillant disappeared and did not emerge again until after learning
about the true circumstances surrounding Edouard's murder. IRR's
losses investing in Rhodia were also of concern to Lazard, which
had invested in IRR as part of Stern's negotiated departure from
The S&M Link
In the days following the
news of Edouard's murder, the French and Swiss press ran riot with
rumors and speculation about the possible links his death might
have had to Rhodia, the Russian mafia, or both. It was reported
that a French prosecuting attorney had suggested to Edouard that
he purchase a gun in the course of the Rhodia affair. But true to
Swiss discretion, the Geneva investigators had soon identified a
prime suspect for Edouard's murder of whom the press remained
ignorant until the police made the arrest.
Unknown to the press, it had not taken long for investigators to
link Edouard's latex-clad body to one Cecile Brossard, 36. The
police first learned that Cecile was one of a few people, along
with the maid and Edouard's inner circle of business associates,
who had keys to his apartment, to which there had been no sign of
Just a few days after Edouard's
body was found, investigators summoned for questioning both Cécile
and her husband, Xavier Gillet, a licensed herbologist, massage
therapist and alternative medicine practitioner. Gillet kept Cécile
in clothes and luxury cars and was well aware of her comings and
goings with Edouard. The couple had reportedly married during a
quick ceremony in Las Vegas, but records of the couple's marriage
do not exist in Switzerland or in France.
couple was interrogated about their marital status, who their
lawyers were, and their bank accounts. They were fingerprinted and
was held for questioning for nine hours, longer than her husband,
but was then released since there was not enough direct evidence
tying her to the crime.
The Swiss detectives
then tapped Cécile's
and her husband's phones. Cécile
remained a person of interest and so was not allowed to leave
A few days later, investigators
traced the license plate of a BMW Mini caught on a security
videotape speeding from the murder scene to Cécile's
husband and his apartment in nearby Clarens, where Cécile
slept in a separate bedroom from Gillet. After her fingerprints
were matched to those found on the latex suit on Edouard's body, Cécile
After her arrest, the hysterical Cécile
immediately confessed. Most of what she said would later be
corroborated and introduced in the court proceedings leading up to
her trial. Yes, she confessed, she had shot Edouard four times in
the face, gut, chest, and head while he stood clad in fetish
attire shortly after a sexual encounter.
then took investigators to the spot on Lake Léman
where she said she had disposed of the pistol with which she shot
Edouard. Divers soon recovered the murder weapon from the lake.
was not raised in a world of wealth and privilege like Edouard's.
Little is reported about her mother except that she suffered from
depression. After her parents' divorce, Cécile
lived with her mother outside of the Paris region until she moved
in with her father in the Parisian suburbs as an adolescent.
Paris is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the
world, but the surrounding suburbs are very different. The suburbs
can be dreary, treeless small towns and cities connected by
chaotic tangles of streets, highways, commuter train tracks, and
thousands of square miles of pavement over what had once been
fields and meadows. Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where Cécile
last lived with her father after her parents' divorce, was one of
these suburbs in the greater Paris metropolis.
father, who had worked at an ad agency, was surprisingly happy to
speak to reporters about his daughter. He claimed that he had
sought to instill in Cécile
an appreciation for music, art, and literature during her
childhood, although, in fact, he had often been absent from her
life, especially when she was a child. "Was she capable of
murder?" Mr. Brossard was asked. Mr. Brossard responded that he
would never "pull the trigger." She was far too clever to commit a
murder, her father said, that could be so easily linked to her. If
she were to kill someone, then it would be in a way that would
make it difficult to link her to the crime, Cécile's
However, Mr. Brossard's credibility
as a character reference for his daughter was soon put in doubt.
Besides his well-documented absenteeism as a father in Cécile's
childhood, reports later revealed that he had hardly had any
contact with his daughter in the eight years prior to the murder.
Most of the few conversations they had had were by phone.
lawyer, Pascal Maurer, told truTV that Cécile's
father had unusual notions about what was appropriate for children
to see and witness, such as thinking it was acceptable to let Cécile
watch Stanley Kubrick's ultra-violent movie A Clockwork Orange at
the age of eight.
Call Girl Allegations
As a young adult, Cécile
obtained a job in England as an au pair and then as a waitress.
But she soon wound back up in the Parisian suburbs, where she got
another job in a restaurant at Charles de Gaulle International
Airport. Shortly thereafter, Cécile
began working in a duty-free shop at the airport, her only
documented employment in France. Cécile
then reportedly began working as an upscale call girl for wealthy
men in Paris, at least according to her father, who volunteered to
the press that he believed she had worked as a prostitute.
Whether or not Cécile
was a prostitute remains unclear. If true, then it appears that it
was for a short time. Cécile,
for her part, claims she never sold sex for money, despite what
her father told the press.
She did manage to
purchase a house by herself near Charles de Gaulle airport in 1993
at Nanteuil-le-Haudouin. Although she was barely making more than
a minimum-wage salary at her jobs at the airport, Cécile
also had enough money left over to remodel the house's two
bathrooms, adding a jacuzzi and a sauna. Her lawyer maintains that
an unnamed friend and her father helped her with these expenses,
A few years after buying her
met Xavier Gillet sometime in 1996 or 1997. While the pre-trial
court documents list Cécile
as single, Cécile
and Gillet were married in Las Vegas in 1998. However, Cécile
kept her house at Nanteuil-le-Haudouin.
meeting Gillet, Cécile
by most accounts engaged in an active extramarital sex life, which
Gillet, at the very least, tolerated. According to some press
reports, she had a particularly keen interest in sadomasochistic
sex. But Cécile
had other interests as well.
had harbored an interest in art since her childhood and pursued
her interests in sculpture, painting, and interior decorating as
an adult. At her house in Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, she sculpted
erotically-themed statutes and composed sexually charged poems.
The Fateful Encounter
and Edouard were introduced by a couple of art gallery owners over
dinner at an upscale restaurant in Paris in 2001. Some reports
maintain that Edouard became enamored of Cécile's
sexual talents, particularly as a dominatrix, while others claim
instead he took more of an interest in Cécile's
artistic side, evinced by his hiring her to redecorate his
apartment in Geneva.
They were in some sense a
couple, but the true nature of their relationship remains a
was seen with Edouard at restaurants and social events over the
course of the next few years. It was assumed by many that she was
one of Edouard's more regular paramours and nothing more. To
Edouard's wealthy circle of friends, colleagues, and at least one
family member, Cécile
seemed quiet and reserved, and did not leave much of an
impression, either good or bad.
along on trips abroad, to such far-flung places as Siberia and
Australia. He once invited her along on a trip to a private
African game preserve to hunt big game. There Edouard introduced Cécile
to the thrill he got shooting wild animals with the high-powered
guns of which he was an avid collector.
his murder, it was later reported that Edouard was on occasion at
Cecile's house in Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and elsewhere for
gatherings with others involving fetishism. The French tabloid
press speculated that Cécile
offered Edouard psychological freedom from his hyperkinetic,
frenzied pace as an international financier, from his own
domineering and controlling personality, and from all the
constraints and pressures that otherwise consumed him.
But while there was much speculation about the sadomasochistic
nature of their relationship, the couple had more traditional
sexual relations like any couple otherwise would, Cécile's
lawyer, told truTV.
"The much publicized sexual
aspects of the relationship were really just one small part of the
equation and were not very important. She adored him--and
continues to adore him--while he loved her in his own way," Maurer
said. "Their relationship was passionate, difficult, and
complicated, but there was a lot of love as well."
The Million-Dollar Promise
relationship with Edouard varied over the years. Whether or not
Gillet approved of Cécile's
relationship with Edouard, it seems Gillet and Cécile's
relationship was more platonic than that of a husband and wife.
would not, she claimed, abandon her relationship with Gillet to
marry and live with Stern.
lawyers claim Edouard proposed marriage to Cécile
in December 2004 and offered to "make her independent." Part of
Edouard's marriage proposal, they say, was the offer to pay Cécile
$1 million. But when the money was not wired to her account a few
days later as promised, Cécile
told Edouard she wanted to end their relationship. Cécile
then sent Edouard a letter in which she said that the gift of a
million euros would prove that he really loved her.
Edouard then, Cécile
claimed, made good on his promise and wired $1 million to Cécile's
account in January. But in February, documents show,éEdouard
then reversed the wire transfer and the money was frozen in her
account. Stern's family maintains the money was a down payment for
the purchase of some paintings for Edouard, but Cécile's
lawyers maintain that the money was a lover's present which
Edouard revoked in an attempt to maintain control over her.
On February 28, Cécile
came to Edouard's apartment with, her lawyer's claim, the
intention to discuss why Edouard had reneged on his promise.
Nothing was resolved, but evidently both had sex on their minds. Cécile
slipped once more into her fetish garb as the dominatrix, and
Edouard put on his latex body suit to let Cécile
tie him up, ready to be punished.
was far from happy about Edouard's handling of the money and
became enraged,�her lawyers maintain, when Edouard said something
to the effect of "$1 million is a lot of money to pay for a
then removed one of the pistols Edouard kept in a drawer and shot
him at point blank range.
When the first bullet
struck him, her lawyers relate, Edouard, exceptionally fit at the
age 50, stood up, but crumpled to the floor after Cécile
fired two more shots into his body. She then fired a final shot
into his right temple.
Escape to Sydney
actions immediately after she fired the four bullets into
Edouard's face and body at point blank range are a major source of
debate between prosecutors and Cécile's
defense attorney. The defense claims that Cécile
acted in a distraught and irrational matter after the crime, while
the prosecution maintains that she had rational motives for
everything she did after murdering Edouard and remained in full
control of her mental faculties.
began trying to remove her traces from the crime scene. She
gathered her fetish gear--tights, a dog-collar, a latex suit and
other accessories, the murder weapon, the two other high-caliber
pistols Edouard kept in a drawer, and the four spent pistol shell
casings. She then left the apartment, locking the door behind her
with her set of keys.
sped off in the BMW Mini that Gillet let her use when in
Switzerland en route to Gillet's apartment in Clarens. Along the
way, she dumped the pistols in Lake Léman.
Once in Clarens, Cécile
explained to Gillet that she had a horrible fight with Edouard and
that she was leaving town for a few days.
boarded a train for Rome, but realized that she had mistakenly
gotten on board a local commuter train when it left the station.
She got off the train at the nearby town of Villeneuve and took a
cab to the airport in Milan, about 185 miles away for a reported
sum of 800 euros ($1,061). Along the way, Cécile
threw the spent shell casings from the murder weapon and the keys
to Edouard's apartment out the window.
airport was closed when she arrived at about 4:30 a.m. Cécile
offered to pay more for the cab driver to take her to Rome, but he
then began pounding against the cab window with her firsts,
screaming hysterically. She ended up waiting outside in the cold
at the front entrance until the airport opened a couple of hours
later at which time she bought a one-way ticket to Sydney,
reportedly chose Australia as her destination since it was, for
her, the "place the farthest away that she could go to," and was
also a place to which she had once accompanied Edouard on a
Before boarding a connecting
flight later that day in Vienna, Cécile
called her lawyer and gave instructions to attempt to block
Edouard's attempts to recover the million dollars from her
then took a heavy dose of the anti-anxiety medication bromazepam
and slept for most of the 24-hour flight to Sydney. Once there,
she checked herself into an airport hotel.
didn't spend a long time in Sydney but while there, she called
several people. She phoned her lawyer and her bank about the
also called Edouard's half-sister Fabienne, expressing shock over
the phone when Fabienne told her about the discovery of Edouard's
body. According to Marc Bonnant, an attorney representing the
Stern family, Cécile
pretended to cry, which for him, was a "cynical" act.
Bonnant's assessment of Cécile's
case is that Cécile's
trip to Australia was part of a cold and calculated plan, not an
erratic mad dash across the world made in the heat of the moment.
While in Sydney, Cécile
instructed her husband by phone, for example, to wash down the
Mini with which she drove to and from Edouard's apartment on the
day of the murder.
left Edouard for dead after shooting him, Bonnant posits, she did
not know whether he was still alive or not. Bonnant maintains that
learned during a phone call to a friend of a rumor that said
Edouard had died after she'd left the country, and she exalted
over the phone that it could not have been she who killed him
because she had an alibi. She then decided to go back to
Switzerland after shrewdly and rationally determining that her
return would make her seem less culpable, Bonnant maintains.
While in Sydney, Cécile
also mailed a package containing clothes items to her uncle and
aunt who lived in Nancy, France. According to some reports, Cécile
sent normal clothes, such as such as slacks, a blouse, and a
brassiere, but in fact, Bonnant claimed, the package contained the
fetish garb she had been wearing when she shot Edouard.
only remained in Sydney for about 24 hours before she was on
another flight headed back to Switzerland. When the plane touched
down in Singapore for a layover, Cécile
had a panic attack and began screaming hysterically when she read
about Edouard's murder on the front page of the French newspaper
Le Figaro. A doctor was called who reluctantly agreed to let her
continue on the flight and gave her a prescription for more
But while Cécile
did appear to be in a hysterical state of mind, she also managed
to call her lawyer and bank while in Singapore. She also contacted
her aunt in Nancy, who agreed to pick her up at the airport and
take her to Clarens.
walked through customs in Zurich, the police were already waiting
for her, and she was brought to the police station for the first
round of questioning.
Life in a Swiss Jail
In the spring of 2008,
Jacques Gasser, a psychiatrist the prosecutors appointed, stated
after interviewing and observing Cécile
that there was little evidence that Cécile
killed Edouard in a "state of passion."
Brossard never lost her capacity to know that her actions were
wrong," Gasser wrote. "Her ability to determine that was, at the
most, slightly diminished."
did show signs of having a borderline personality with
narcissistic tendencies. However, central to the prosecution's
was "not delirious nor were her perceptions of reality altered"
when she murdered Edouard, Gasser wrote.
apparently attempted to commit suicide shortly before the
psychiatrist's report was released. Little was written about the
incident, except that Cécile
had slit her wrists while being transported from the prison in
Champ-Dollon to the Belle Idee hospital, but that her life was
never in danger.
However, Cecile's attempt to
end her life can also be construed as part of a pattern of
psychotic behavior she has exhibited since she was jailed almost
four years ago. She is heavily dependant on the anti-anxiety
and she constantly claims to be in direct contact with Edouard.
According to the psychiatric report, Cécile
once declared that "his death has fused them together."
One may be tempted to think that Cécile's
irrational behavior, holding conversations with dead people, is a
ruse to help convince a jury of her diminished mental capacity in
a court of law. However, even Bonnant does not think her behavior
is an act. Instead, Bonnant told Crime Library, her eccentricities
may largely stem from being alone in a cell for several years.
"I believe she was actually very much in love with [Edouard], and
the solitude of jail has made something almost mystical out of the
affair for her," Bonnant told Crime Library. "It is a normal
system of psychological defense, and is a way to put herself out
of reach of her own conscience."
When she is not
talking to Edouard, Cécile
spends her time in her cell thinking and writing, Bonnant said.
Compared to women's maximum security prisons in other parts of the
is treated "humanely" and is allowed one personal visit per week,
trial is set to begin in 2009. Chiefly at issue is Cécile's
mental state at the time of the murder. Indeed, similar to penal
codes in the United States, a major distinction is made between
murder with and without mitigating circumstances. For the defense,
actions after the murder demonstrate her "diminished capacity"
owing to her imbalanced psychological state and loss of control
during a fit of passion. But for the prosecutors as well as
was in full control of her mental faculties and was merely enraged
over Edouard's decision to not give her the million dollars as
"Her actions and motives clearly show
that she was motivated purely by egotistical reasons relating to
the money he promised her," Bonnant told Crime Library.
Under Swiss law, assassinat is defined as a killing with
premeditated intent, and meurtre as unpremeditated killing. To
receive an even lesser sentence for meurtre passionel--for a crime
of passion, the defendant must convince a judge or jury that there
were mitigating circumstances that led to the crime. Defendants
guilty of meurtre passionel get one to ten years, while those
convicted of meurtre alone get sentences of five to 20 years in
Switzerland, and the sentence for assassinat ranges from 10 years
to life. Perpetrators usually serve only two thirds of their
sentences, so by factoring in the time she has already served
since 2005, Cécile
could potentially be free immediately following the trial if she
is convicted of meurtre passionel.