Jeffrey Epstein found dead in cell ahead of sex trafficking trial
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Jeffrey Epstein found dead in cell ahead of sex trafficking trial

Jewish American financier found unresponsive in prison as the FBI said it will investigate his death

Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

Millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein has died in prison in New York in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The US Bureau of Prisons said Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan at about 6.30am local time on Saturday.

Officials said staff tried to revive him and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment, but the 66-year-old was pronounced dead.

The FBI has said it will investigate Epstein’s death.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed he had been in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population.

Until recently, the same unit had been home to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is now serving a life sentence at the so-called Supermax prison in Colorado.

Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges and would have faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Some of his accusers and their lawyers reacted with frustration to the news that the financier will not now have to face them in court.

“We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” accuser Jennifer Araoz said in a statement.

Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer for nearly two dozen other accusers, said it was “not the ending anyone was looking for”.

He added: “The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused.”

Epstein’s arrest last month saw separate investigations launched into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were brought against him more than a decade ago.

In that case in 2008, a deal allowed Epstein to plead guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

US Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was US attorney in Miami.

Epstein’s lawyers maintained the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were covered by the deal and were improper.

They said he has not had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

A little over two weeks ago, Epstein was found on the floor of his cell with bruises on his neck.

At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.

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