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Theodore MAHER





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Arson - His intention was merely to trigger the fire alarm and pose as Safra's rescuer
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: December 3, 1999
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: June 9, 1958
Victims profile: His billionaire employer, banker Edmond Safra, 67, and Safra's nurse, Vivian Torrente
Method of murder: Fire
Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Status: Sentenced to 10 years in prison on December 4, 2002. Released in October 2007

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New York nurse Ted Maher was convicted in the Monaco arson death of his billionaire employer, banker Edmond Safra.


Theodore Maher (born June 9, 1958, Auburn, Maine) is an American registered nurse (an ex-Green Beret) convicted of arson in a 1999 fire that killed Edmond Safra and a nurse, Vivian Torrente, at Safra’s Penthouse apartment in Monaco. In October 2007 Maher was released after serving eight years in jail. In television interviews after release, he has maintained his innocence.


Ted Maher was born in Maine and lived there and in California before his family settled in Upstate New York when he was 12. After serving a stint in the army in the mid-1970s, the former Green Beret received nursing degrees from Dutchess County Community College and Pace University. A brief marriage produced a son, Chris, now 18.

While studying at the Dutchess County Community College Maher met his third wife, Heidi Wustrau. The couple lost contact for two years but started dating in 1991 while both attended Pace University and worked at Columbia Medical Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital. They wed on December 12, 1993 and the marriage produced two more children, Ian, 11, and Amber, 9. The family made their home in Stormville, N.Y., about 70 miles north of Manhattan.

While working as a registered nurse at the neonatal unit at the Columbia Medical Center, Maher developed film from a camera he found left behind in a discharged patient's room. The camera's owners, Laura and Harry Slatkin, were grateful to retrieve the first photographs of their newborn twins. Harry Slatkin offered Ted the "job of a lifetime." Shortly thereafter Maher interviewed with the personal assistant to Edmond Safra, a banker and billionaire based in Monaco who required private nursing care for Parkinson's and other ailments."

According to Heidi Maher, the Safras liked that Ted was an ex-Green Beret and thought he could be both a bodyguard and a nurse. The Safras offered Ted Maher a contract at $600 per day, more money than he had ever made, but he’d have to leave for Monaco right away. With a hospital strike looming and legal bills mounting from a visitation battle with his ex-wife regarding his oldest son, Maher ultimately accepted the job in early August.

Edmond Safra's death

Safra, the 67-year-old founder and principal stock owner of the Republic National Bank of New York, had Parkinson's disease and required constant care. On Dec 3rd 1999, Maher was scheduled at the last minute to work the overnight shift caring for Safra with Vivian Torrente (one of eight nurses who looked after Safra) at Safra's Monaco penthouse at La Belle Epoque, a four-story bank and two-story flat at 17 Avenue D'Ostende. Here is the chronology of events that took place that night:

  • 4.49 a.m. Monitoring station detects a Fire alarm from Safra’s apartment.

  • 5:00 a.m. Dialing the cellphone Maher gave her, Torrente calls head nurse Sonia Casiano from Safra's dressing room to ask her to call police. She informs Casiano that Maher is injured. Five more calls are made by Torrente during the next 90 minutes.

  • 5:12 a.m. The first police officers arrive in the lobby of the building. Police begin organizing a floor by floor search for intruders.

  • 5:20 a.m. Maher is transported to Princess Grace Hospital for treatment of stab wounds.

  • 5:24 a.m. Passers by and neighbours begin flooding emergency phone lines with reports of seeing smoke from the building.

  • 5:30 a.m. Torrente makes fourth call to Casiano from the cellphone. She does not mention any smoke. Safra appears calm but requests police intervention.

  • 6:15 a.m. Firefighters begin battling the blaze.

  • 6:30 a.m. Torrente, losing consciousness, makes her sixth and final call from the cellphone. Safra is heard coughing in the background.

  • 7:45 a.m. Firefighters gain access to the locked dressing room on the top floor of the penthouse and discover the bodies of Edmond Safra and Vivian Torrente.

Immediately after his arrest Maher claimed two intruders had gained access to the apartment and that he had fought them off, receiving stab wounds. He had informed the other nurse, Vivian Torrente, of the assailants and had given her his cell phone to call for help. He ordered her to take Edmond Safra into the secure dressing room while he went to the nearby nursing station, where he lit toilet paper in a trash basket to set off a smoke alarm, with the intention of alerting outside people that there was a problem. Maher then made his way, bleeding and feeling faint, downstairs to the lobby of the building to get help. But while police and firemen got to the building, they didn’t get to Edmond Safra and Vivian Torrente until it was too late.

A few days later on December 7, Monaco's chief prosecutor, Daniel Serdet, announced that Maher had confessed to starting the fire "to draw attention to himself" as he was "jealous" of Mr. Safra's seven other nurses. In addition, his stab wounds had been self-inflicted. Maher had slashed himself twice with his own switchblade - once in the thigh and once in the stomach - to corroborate his story about the intruders. On December 6 Safra was buried in Geneva.

Trail and conviction

The case was a sensation for Monaco, a tiny Mediterranean principality better known for sumptuous casinos, Formula One racing and tax breaks that attract the world's rich and famous. The riviera’s leading newspaper, Nice Matin, dubbed it Monaco's "Trial of the Century".

During his trial, Maher confessed to setting the blaze but said he never expected the fire to rage out of control and that the fire was part of a bizarre plan to ingratiate himself with Safra. Maher testified that he’d started the blaze in a small wastebasket, expecting it to set off a fire alarm that would bring help and allow him to reap the credit for saving his employer.

There had also been friction between himself and Sonia Herkrath, Safra’s head nurse. Though not technically Maher's boss, Herkrath had control of the nurses' work schedule and could make their lives difficult if she didn't like them. And she didn't like Maher, whom she considered just another "flavor of the month," who had gotten into Safra's good graces by returning a camera a friend forgot in New York six months earlier. Herkrath was allegedly responsible for the departure of 17 other nurses in the previous 16 months, and Maher did not want to become number 18. He believed she was intentionally providing him with wrong information, causing him to make mistakes that had not gone unnoticed, and she frequently altered his scheduled between day and night shifts with little or no notice.

Fearing the loss of his well-paid job, just six weeks after arriving in Monaco, Maher hatched the idea of setting the fire to ingratiate himself with his boss and earn a promotion. The prosecution described how Maher cut himself with a knife and then set a fire in a wastepaper basket. He called for rescue and told authorities that two masked intruders were in the apartment. But rather than extinguish the fire, Maher let it spread, the prosecution charged, leading to the two deaths. Prosecutors also said that his tale about intruders delayed the work of firefighters.

American lawyer Michael Griffith, who had previously represented Billy Hayes - an American whose escape from a Turkish jail inspired the motion picture "Midnight Express" - volunteered to assist with Ted Maher’s defense. Griffith based their defense on the notion that, whilst Ted did set the fire, he never intended to harm anyone. “It was a stupid, most insane thing a human being could do,” says Griffith. “He did not intend to kill Mr. Safra. He just wanted Mr. Safra to appreciate him more. He loved Mr. Safra. This was the best job of his life.”

Maher maintained that the deaths of Safra and Torrente would have been averted if police had not blocked firefighters from launching a rescue attempt until long after Maher was rushed to a hospital. Lawyers for Safra's widow, Lily, argued Maher should be judged for his actions, not his intentions.

In December 2002 Maher was convicted in the arson deaths of Edmond Safra and Vivian Torrente and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The prosecution had requested 12 years in prison for Maher. The charges carried a maximum penalty of life in prison. "He directly caused the deaths of Mrs. Torrente and Mr. Safra," said head prosecutor Daniel Serdet. "He trapped the victims."

On the final day of his trial Maher called Safra "the best employer I ever had," and said he did not mean to cause his death or the death of the other nurse. "What's happened is and always will be a terrible accident", reiterating earlier testimony, in the hours before the verdict. Maher's wife was in court, as was Safra's widow.

Jail break

Less than two months after being sentenced, on 22 January 2003 Ted Maher and his cellmate, an Italian awaiting trial in Monaco on charges stemming from a robbery, sawed through the bars on their cell, and then, using a rope made of black garbage bags, climbed out and escaped overnight. Maher made it 15 miles to Nice, where he holed up in a hotel and made telephone contact with people in the US, including his wife, his lawyer and his priest; they gave him up to the police, who apprehended him seven hours later.

Parallels were drawn between Maher's escape and the one carried out by Billy Hayes, a previous client of Griffith, who had also made a daring escape while being held in an overseas prison in 1975. In Hayes's case, he was facing life in prison for possession of hashish, and, risking getting shot on sight, he escaped from a Turkish prison and made his way to Greece and freedom.

Release and Interview on Court TV

Maher served an additional nine months which were added to his sentence for escape. He was released in October 2007 and returned to the United States.  In a series of interviews on American Court TV, Maher maintained his pretrial statements were coerced, threats were made against his family by authorities, and to this day maintains his innocence. The late Dominick Dunne did comprehensive investigations on the case for courtroom television and was not completely convinced that Ted Maher was responsible for Safra’s death. Dunne's doubt centered on the fact that it took two and half hours for firefighters to reach Safra and his nurse. How so, wondered Dunne, especially when Edmond Safra’s wife Lily (who was in her bedroom on the other end of the apartment) was somehow able to get out? These two holes in the facts surrounding the case did not make any sense to Dunne.


Maher was imprisoned in Monaco for over two years before his trial began, resulting in a considerable amount of controversy and speculation surrounding the case. Days before his death, Safra finalized the sale of his Republic National Bank to HSBC Holdings plc for billions. He was a jet-setter who kept company with statesmen like Shimon Peres, the former prime minister of Israel. But his business made him some potent enemies as well. In 1998 his Republic Bank made a report to the F.B.I. that began an investigation into the possibility of a vast Russian money laundering that came to focus on the Bank of New York and ultimately helped break a $6bn crime ring.

The increasingly security conscious Safra employed a small army of guards, said to be trained in Israel by intelligence units. None of his security team were, however, on duty on the night of the fire, which both enabled Maher to carry out the arson attack and hampered police and firefighters' efforts to gain access to his heavily fortified penthouse. Upon arrest, Maher initially fabricated the story that two intruders had penetrated the apartment and that he had fought them off, receiving stab wounds. This cover story, combined with Safra's involvements with the F.B.I., quickly led to rumours that the incident had been a well-executed Russian mob hit, leaving Maher as the patsy.

Once the trial was underway, however, Maher's own testimony claimed that he had acted alone, motivated by self-interest and paranoia and specifically out of fear of losing his highly rewarding job. This claim was later repudiated, and Maher alleged he was forced to confess during his initial hospitalization.

Allegations in 2007 by Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin that the outcome of the trial itself had been manipulated or fixed through collusion between Hullin, chief investigative judge on the case, along with Monaco's chief prosecutor and a member of Maher's state-appointed defence team remain unresolved.


American nurse faces charges in the death of billionaire Edmond Safra

June 21, 2001

STORMVILLE, N.Y. — As a steady rain falls outside, 3-year-old Amber Maher and her brothers Ian, 5, and Chris, 12, amuse themselves quietly in the living room of their grandparents' tidy ranch-style home deep in the woods off Interstate 84.

The children's mother, Heidi Maher, settles into a wooden chair at the dining room table. Ignoring bagels in favor of a Diet Coke, the 30-year-old daughter of a retired IBM manager plays nervously with her husband Ted's gold wedding band on her own ring finger.

She wipes the tears from her brown eyes.

For the children, it's the second straight Father's Day without their dad, a 43-year-old registered nurse who delivered Ian and Amber. For Heidi, it is Day 561 of an ordeal that began with a frantic telephone call from Tammy Evans, Ted's younger sister.

"She said, 'What's Ted's boss's name?'" Heidi, regaining her composure, recalled of the early morning conversation on Dec. 3, 1999. "I said, 'Why?' She said she was watching TV and there was a billionaire, and there was a fire and he and a nurse died. I said, 'Oh, my God. Ted died.'"

Heidi Maher eventually learned that her husband wasn't dead. Ted Maher was alive, recovering from two stab wounds in a hospital in Monaco, 4,000 miles away. Another nurse, Vivian Torrente, was the one who died in the early morning blaze that also claimed the life of 67-year-old banker Edmond Safra.

The deaths made international headlines. Safra was one of the world's richest and most-powerful men. The Jewish philanthropist died from carbon monoxide fumes created by the fire that gutted the upper floors of the luxurious penthouse apartment where the billionaire and his wife Lily — dubbed "The Gilded Lily" by the European press — lived when they were in Monaco, the postage stamp-sized principality south of France on the Mediterranean Sea.

Some early news accounts hailed Ted Maher as a hero. From the smallest weekly newspapers here in upstate New York to the largest of London's many tabloids, media outlets worldwide were reporting that the former special forces Green Beret gave Edmond Safra and Torrente his cellphone and told them to hide from masked intruders who attacked him. Maher then stumbled into the lobby bleeding to report that two masked intruders had attacked him with a knife on the fifth floor.

But the story soon took a hard right turn.

Three days after the fire, Monaco's chief prosecutor announced that Ted Maher, the male nurse, was the villain not the hero in this tale. He said Maher confessed in writing to starting the fire with a scented candle and admitted stabbing himself with a pocketknife to cast suspicion on intruders who did not exist.

The motive? According to prosecutor Daniel Serdet, Maher wanted to ingratiate himself with his wealthy patient and employer because he was not getting along with his supervisor, Sonia Casiano. Monaco authorities were describing a depressed, mentally unstable man who started a blaze in a waste basket in the nurse's station to win favor with Safra, a Beirut-born banking mogul who founded Republic National Bank of New York.

Heidi Maher could not, and would not, believe it. The man they were describing was not the man she met in nursing class at Dutchess County Community College in 1988, fell in love with and married on Dec. 12, 1993.

"He is kind and gentle. He's not prone to anger," she said.

Heidi knew Ted Maher as a devoted family man who dedicated his life to the care of premature babies at Columbia Presbyterian Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital.

In an interview at her parent's home, Heidi Maher told Court TV on June 17 that her blond, blue-eyed husband of seven years remains steadfast in his insistence that he is a scapegoat for Monaco police officials, whose decisions impeded the work of firefighters called to La Belle Epoque, Safra's four-story bank and two-story flat at 17 Avenue D'Ostende.

A Monaco judge, Chief Examining Magistrate Patricia Richet, is serving essentially as a one-person grand jury who decides which charges Ted Maher will face. Richet is expected to finish her investigation and issue a report sometime this summer or early fall to a three-judge panel who, along with three civilian advisers, will try Ted Maher. The trial could be held this fall or winter. If he is tried for "arson causing death," he would face life imprisonment if convicted.

Timeline Key to Case

Ted Maher's actions the morning Safra died and what police did and did not do to save the banker-philanthropist and his nurse will likely be central issues at the trial, which is expected to garner international media attention.

Did Maher start the fire that took the life of his nursing colleague and Safra, who entrusted Maher with his life? Maher says he lit some wastepaper on fire with a candle and held it to a smoke alarm to bring firefighters and police, whom he believed would encounter the intruders.

Were Maher's knife wounds (one took 100 staples to close) self-inflicted? Authorities believe that Maher's nursing and military training made him capable of inflicting the non-life threatening injuries on himself, which he vehemently denies.

What about other suspects? It was widely reported that Safra's bank blew the whistle on money laundering by the Russian mafia. Did police do anything to investigate whether Maher was telling the truth about intruders, or get to the bottom of why Safra's bodyguards, most former Israeli intelligence agents, were given the night off by Lily Safra, who escaped the fire?

And what about the alleged intruders? Only Ted Maher reported seeing them, but there are unanswered questions about why the elaborate security surveillance system in the residence was inoperable on the night of the fire.

New York attorney Michael Griffith, part of Maher's defense team, says Maher may be the perfect patsy. The lawyer said he can see no scenario under which Maher should be held criminally responsible for the loss of two lives he claims he was trying to save.

"His claim is he set the fire to alert the fire department. Our position is that because of the interference, malfeasance and nonfeasance of the police, the fire department did not get into Safra's bedroom/fortress until 7:45 a.m.," said Griffith, who represented Billy Hayes, the real-life protagonist of the film Midnight Express.

"If the police had acted properly and allowed the fire department to do their job, the deaths never would have occurred," Griffith said.

Ted Maher referred to the botched rescue in a recent letter to the head of Monaco's constitutional monarchy, Prince Rainier III, husband of the late American actress Grace Kelly.

"I have always stated that I accept my limited part of responsibility in the tragedy, but I do not want to be the scapegoat for the slowness of the fire and police rescue efforts," he wrote. "I was taken to the Monaco hospital at 5:20 a.m. and Mr. Safra and Vivian Torrente died after 6:30 a.m. ... I am neither an arsonist nor a murderer."

The chronology of events are central to Maher's defense, which is two-pronged.

Maher's lawyers claim he was arrested on the basis of a coerced confession that was typed in French, which he does not speak or read, and presented after Heidi Maher was held incommunicado for three days. But even if it were found that Ted started the fire that deprived Safra and Torrente of oxygen, ending their lives, rescuers had more than 90 minutes to save the victims, his lawyers argue.

The first indication of trouble at Safra's residence came at 4:49 a.m. on Dec. 3, 1999, when an automated fire alarm report was received by a private monitoring station. A short time later, police were called from the building concierge when Maher stumbled into the lobby bleeding, saying that intruders had attacked him on the fifth floor.

At 5 a.m., Vivian Torrente used the cellphone Maher gave her to frantically ask a friend to call police; she and Safra, who suffered from Parkinson's disease and other ailments requiring around-the-clock care, were hiding in a locked dressing room on the sixth floor of the 20-room duplex apartment.

The first emergency services workers arrived before 5:30 a.m. but police, believing that intruders might still be inside, insisted that the residence be searched thoroughly before firefighters were allowed in. Firefighting efforts were impeded until 6:15 a.m., but by then the fire was raging.

Access to the super-secure penthouse became a problem in the confusion, although Safra's butler was there and had keys. Safra's security chief offered keys too, but was briefly handcuffed by police officers who didn't know who was Safra's friend or foe.

Flames spread from the nursing station to the attic and then to other parts of the residence. Authorities believe Safra and Torrente were overcome by carbon monoxide from air ducts about 6:30 a.m. When they were discovered dead at 7:45 a.m., Safra was found seated in a red armchair and Torrente was curled up on a leopard-skin carpet.

Safra, who surrounded himself with bodyguards and double-paned glass that firefighters could not penetrate, may have been a victim of his own obsession with security. In fact, a six-month investigation by two court-appointed fire experts suggested, without specifically saying so, that Safra and his nurse might still by alive if not for the elaborate security arrangements and decisions made at the time of the fire by police.

"The duration of the intervention of the emergency services was abnormally long for a limited-scale fire ... [T]he police and fire brigade had delayed taking into account the information provided by the two fire protection services, the police having favored the implausible scenario of attack," Henry Viellard and Ghislaine Reiss wrote in their report, which was translated into English and published on a Web site created by Maher's brother, Michael Maher.

Ted Maher believes he is being railroaded and has asked his wife not to attend the trial. With three children to care for and working double shifts at an undisclosed hospital where other nurses don't know her true identity, Heidi Maher isn't sure whether she wants to go back to Monaco anyway. She still has vivid memories of being whisked off to a police station and then a hotel, interrogated and having her passport taken away by people who — she says in pre-action legal papers filed in New York State Supreme Court — showed it to Ted to get him to sign the confession.

"Ted doesn't want me there. He doesn't think it is going to turn out good," she said. "I want to be there for Ted, but I don't know. I just want my husband home where he belongs. I don't care how, but I want it to happen now, not years from now."

Heidi Maher added, "This man is definitely worth fighting for."

The Hunger Strike

Heidi Maher recently returned from a rushed and hushed trip to Monaco with a lawyer and Ted Maher's mother, Elayne Maher, to persuade her husband to end a hunger strike protesting harassing, closed-court interrogations by Richet.

In early May, Ted stopped accepting food from his guards at the hilltop prison where he is being held, sustaining himself only on liquids. He was transferred to the psychiatric wing of Princess Grace Hospital, where he was kept under 24-hour guard as the protest continued.

Defense lawyer Michael Griffith learned of the hunger strike from Ted Maher's court-appointed Monegasque lawyer, who wanted it stopped. Griffith, Heidi Maher and Elayne Maher flew to Monaco on short notice to persuade Ted that he wasn't helping his case and was probably irritating a judge who would help decide his fate.

Heidi said she was strip-searched before being allowed to enter a small hospital room where her husband, dressed only in a hospital gown, was confined.

She noticed that his 6-foot-1-inch frame appeared considerably lighter, and his blond hair had turned white. A guard pulled out his sidearm and stood between the couple after Heidi rushed forward to hug her husband for the first time in 18 months. It took Heidi three more visits and a promise by the prison to deliver Ted's letter to Prince Rainier, to get Ted to end his 11-day hunger strike.

In the May 17 letter, first reported in author-journalist Dominick Dunne's article in the July issue of Vanity Fair, Ted Maher wrote that he will no longer subject himself to questioning by Richet.

"I have collaborated to the full extent of my ability for more than 500 days. I will not be brought forth for interrogation by her for the sole person of being harassed, demeaned or ridiculed," the defendant wrote.

Toward the end of the letter the prisoner hinted that he might entertain a deal to lesser charges.

"I am not asking for any special treatment or favors. I am only asking for what is right: that the charges be reduced to their just proportion as Judge Richet knows they should be," Ted told Rainier. "I must ask you this for the sake of my wife and my three little children."

Ted's wife knew about the planned hunger strike and endorsed it, confident that Ted would make his point without harming himself.

"I supported his starting it and supported his ending it," Heidi said of the hunger strike. "He did it out of protest, not out of depression at all."

Griffith thought the hunger strike was a bad move from the moment he learned about it.

"I was very concerned that his action would be detrimental to his relationship with the judge in the courtroom," the lawyer said. "I tried to impress upon him and stress that you don't want to piss off the person who controls the keys to the jailhouse door."


American convicted in arson killing of billionaire in Monaco

Dec. 5, 2002

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) — An American male nurse was convicted Monday in the arson deaths of billionaire banker Edmond Safra and a nurse, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Ted Maher was convicted of arson leading to death. The 1999 fire in this wealthy Mediterranean enclave also killed one of Safra's other nurses, Vivian Torrente.

The prosecution had requested 12 years in prison for Maher. The charges carried a maximum penalty of life in prison.

"He directly caused the deaths of Mrs. Torrente and Mr. Safra," said head prosecutor Daniel Serdet. "He trapped the victims.

The defense said Maher -- who admitted setting the fire -- did not intend for Safra and the nurse to die. His intention was merely to trigger the fire alarm and pose as Safra's rescuer.

"Stupidity is reprehensible, but it is not a crime," Sandrine Setton, one of the defense lawyers, said in closing arguments.

Although Maher was convicted of the top charge listed in the indictment, arson causing deaths, the jury of three judges and three citizens sentenced Maher to serve only 10 years in prison. Maher will not be eligible for parole for at least a year, according to an adviser to the defense team.

"We are not dissatisified. I'd say this is a victory," Michael Griffith of New York, who has been advising Maher's lawyers, told by phone from Monaco.

Griffith said the jury deliberated for less than two hours before issuing its finding. He said Maher's wife, Heidi Maher, cried when the verdict was announced. The defendant was whisked from the courtroom quickly, Griffith said.

The fire and trial have been a sensation in Monaco, which prides itself with providing a safe, security and luxurious environment for the rich and famous in this Mediterranean enclave.

For most of Monday's session, Maher sat still in the dock, looking gaunt and tired as he listened to a translation of the proceedings from French into English. Toward the end of the day, he gave a tearful final word in his own defense.

He called Safra "the best employer I ever had," and said he did not mean to cause his death or the death of the other nurse.

"What's happened is and always will be a terrible accident," said the former Green Beret, reiterating earlier testimony, in the hours before the verdict.

Maher's wife was in court, as was Safra's widow.

Safra, the 67-year-old founder and principal stock owner of the Republic National Bank of New York, had Parkinson's disease and required constant care.

He paid Maher $600 a day. Maher, originally from Auburn, Maine, told prosecutors it was "the most beautiful job" he had ever had.

But Maher also said Safra's chief nurse belittled him and he feared losing his job. Just six weeks after arriving in Monaco, he hatched the idea of setting the fire to ingratiate himself with his boss and earn a promotion.

In testimony, Maher called the Dec. 3, 1999, blaze a "terrible accident" and said he never meant to harm his employer.

Lawyers for Safra's widow, Lily, say Maher should be judged for his actions, not his intentions.

On Monday, the prosecutor described how Maher cut himself with a knife and then set a fire in a wastepaper basket. He called for rescue and told authorities that two masked intruders were in the apartment.

But rather than extinguish the fire, Maher let it spread, the prosecution charged, leading to the two deaths. Prosecutors also said that his tale about intruders delayed the work of firefighters.



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