Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Risqué Management: The Murder of Edouard Stern

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."

"Cécile 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."

Gasser acknowledged that Cécile did show signs of having a borderline personality with narcissistic tendencies. However, central to the prosecution's case, Cécile was "not delirious nor were her perceptions of reality altered" when she murdered Edouard, Gasser wrote.

Aerial view of the prison in Champ-Dollon
Aerial view of the prison in Champ-Dollon

Cécile 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 Idée hospital, but that her life was never in danger.

However, Cécile'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 medication benzodiazépine, 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 world, Cécile is treated "humanely" and is allowed one personal visit per week, he said.

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