SAFRA NURSE GUILTY (NY POST) By PHILIPPE DUPUY and BRAD HUNTER 12/03/02)
NEW YORK POST
NEW YORK POST Articles-Index-Top
December 3, 2002 -- The American nurse who killed billionaire Edmond
Safra in a bizarre bathroom blaze was convicted in a Monaco court
yesterday and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Ted Maher, 44, was found guilty of arson leading to death, for
setting the Dec. 3, 1999, wastepaper-basket fire that killed the 67-
year-old financier and his other American nurse, Vivian Torrente, 52.
The jury of three judges and three citizens deliberated for two hours
before reaching a verdict.
Safra´s widow, Lily, who was in court every day of the trial, was
pleased with the outcome.
"Let us thank God for this moment when justice has been done. The
guilty man has been punished and the full facts of that dreadful
night . . . have been laid bare for all to see," she said in a
She bitterly slammed press portrayals of her husband as a paranoid
wreck obsessed with his security.
"Edmond did not suffer with paranoia nor was he obsessed with his
personal security," Lily said.
"He lived in fear of no one and sought only to care for those he
loved or who were less fortunate than he was."
At one point in the trial, the defense team hinted that the mogul may
have caused Torrente´s death by preventing her escape from the smoky
"The suggestion that Edmond could have killed Vivian, which was
disproved during the trial and which Ted Maher repudiated, is
abhorrent," the widow said. "I am glad that the truth is now known."
Lily Safra also said she was deeply touched when Maher´s wife, Heidi,
addressed the court.
"I feel great sadness that she and her children have suffered so much
as a result of her husband´s actions in Monaco," Lily said, adding
that Maher should have gone to the kindly billionaire about his money
Maher begins serving his sentence exactly three years to the day of
the tragic fire.
The high-profile case in the Mediterranean playground of the rich
captivated members of the jet set anxious to hear details of Safra´s
tragic final days. Rumors directly after the fire suggested that
terrorists or Russian mobsters had murdered Safra - but those rumors
were disproved in court.
"He [Maher] directly caused the deaths of Mrs. Torrente and Mr.
Safra," said lead prosecutor Daniel Serdet in his closing
arguments. "He trapped the victims."
Maher, of Stormville, N.Y., admitted setting the fire but testified
he had no intention of harming Safra or Torrente.
His plan had been to set the fire, "rescue" the billionaire and win
his favor, but the plot went terribly awry.
The former Green Beret even cut himself with a knife and claimed
intruders had invaded Safra´s Monaco mansion and caused the blaze.
"Stupidity is reprehensible, but it is not a crime," Sandrine Setton,
one of Maher´s lawyers, said in closing arguments.
Throughout the day, Maher sat expressionless - looking gaunt and
tired - and his face was frozen when the verdict was read. He pleaded
for mercy earlier in the day.
Calling Safra "the best employer I ever had," Maher reiterated his
claim he had no intention of harming anyone.
"What happened is and always will be a terrible accident," Maher
Safra was the founder and principal shareholder of the Republic
National Bank in New York. In his final years he suffered from
Parkinson´s disease and required round-the-clock care.
Safra´s brothers and sisters said their tycoon brother will not be
"The memory we cherish of our dear brother is not that of a victim,"
they said in a statement.
"But rather that of a family leader, a caring individual of honor,
dignity and respect." (Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc. 12/03/02)
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