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Fugitive arson killer held in Nice

Maher said he started the fire so he could impress his employer

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MONACO -- An American male nurse convicted of the arson killing of his wealthy boss has been recaptured after escaping from his prison cell.

Ted Maher, who is serving a 10-year sentence for starting a fire which killed billionaire banker Edmond Safra, sawed through the bars of his Monaco cell on Tuesday night and went on the run with a fellow prisoner.

Maher, a 44-year-old former U.S. soldier, was captured in Nice in southern France early on Wednesday, police said.

The fugitive, from Maine, was convicted last December. Maher had admitted setting fire to a wastepaper basket in Safra's luxury Monaco apartment in 1999 in a planned rescue stunt aimed at impressing Safra.

The rescue attempt went wrong when the fire got out of control, Maher said.

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.

His fear over security had led him to installing an elaborate security system in the flat. He had refused to come out of the flat's bathroom during the blaze because of concern that an intruder was in the apartment.

Safra had paid Maher $600 per day for his care. Safra's other nurse, Vivian Torrente, also died in the fire.

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