Call-girl confesses to murder of banker

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The Independent Online

A Frenchwoman of 36 will appear in a Geneva court today accused of the murder of the financier Edouard Stern, shot dead while wearing only a latex body-suit this month.

A Frenchwoman of 36 will appear in a Geneva court today accused of the murder of the financier Edouard Stern, shot dead while wearing only a latex body-suit this month.

The confession of Cécile Brossard - who lived a complicated double life as a call-girl and the wife of a specialist in alternative medicine - has answered the principal question. A host of other questions remain unanswered.

Why did Mme Brossard, described as a "slender, elegant woman with long, blond hair", fly to Australia immediately after the murder then fly back to Switzerland? Why did she send her aunt and uncle a parcel from Australia containing a second latex body suit and other sado-masochistic objects?

Why did M. Stern, 50, one of France's wealthiest men and the son of an ancient French banking family, give Mme Brossard €600,000 (£400,000) then block access to the money? And what was Mme Brossard's motive and did she act alone?

Her lawyers say she was driven to a "crime of passion" after being "manipulated psychologically" in a sado-masochistic relationship with the man she loved.

The investigating judge in charge of the case, Michel-Alexander Graber, said her motive remained "in the shadows". The investigation has yet to decide if the murder was an unplanned act of passion or a pre-meditated attempt to obtain large amounts of money. Suggestions in the Swiss press that M. Stern asked Mme Brossard to end his life have been denied.

There have also been reports that police seized her address book, which contained the names and addresses of prominent French figures. This was denied by Judge Graber.

He was asked whether Mme Brossard could have been hired to kill M. Stern, who had many enemies in the world of finance. He replied: "I cannot exclude the possibility of a contract killing at this stage but it is not the line of inquiry that we are concentrating on."

The greatest mystery is Mme Brossard's two-day trip to Australia. All that is known about her stay is that she posted a parcel to her uncle and aunt in Nancy in eastern France, containing a latex body-suit which she may have been wearing at the time of the murder.

M. Stern, who was shot twice in the head and twice in the body, was found in his bedroom. At first investigators thought his latex suit may have been an attempt to disguise a professional killing. But CCTV cameras at the apartment block in Geneva showed that the only visitor at the time of the murder was Mme Brossard. She was arrested last week at her apartment in Montreux, where she lives with her husband, and confessed. She told investigators that she had thrown the revolver into Lake Geneva. Police have recovered three guns from the lake, two of them belonging to M. Stern, a weapons collector.

Mme Brossard and M. Stern met four years ago. A relationship between a high-class call-girl and a client turned into a bizarre love affair, her lawyers say, and she became the "battered victim of an unimaginable, psychological manipulation".

In today's hearing, to which press and public will not be admitted, Mme Brossard will be formally accused of murder and her custody will be extended.

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