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French ministers seek probe into late accused United States pedophile Jeffrey Epstein

13 August 2019

Epstein was accused of paying girls as young as 14 for sex, and then using them to draw in other victims.

Epstein's abrupt death Saturday cut short a criminal prosecution that could have pulled back the curtain on the inner workings of a high-flying financier with connections to celebrities and presidents, though prosecutors have vowed to continue investigating.

He was facing charges of sex trafficking of minors and of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which would have carried a maximum of 45 years in prison. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.

Epstein, who was found dead in a NY prison cell on Saturday in an apparent suicide, was also alone in his room when he died, according to a senior prison union official, despite procedures that he should have been accompanied by another inmate. She did not release a determination, saying it was "pending further information".

Sampson also confirmed the presence of a private pathologist (Dr. Michael Baden) at the autopsy, per the request of Epstein's representatives - a "routine practice", Sampson added.

Jennifer Araoz, who came forward after the charges were filed in July, said she was angered by Mr Epstein's suicide.

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"Jeffrey Epstein's death is a tragedy to everyone involved in his case", Berman said in a statement on Monday.

Despite that incident, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and he was alone in a cell in the unit of the correctional center used to isolate vulnerable prisoners when his body was found.

Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch at the time in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a source said. The person wasn't authorized to discuss jail operations publicly and spoke Sunday on the condition of anonymity.

Last month, Epstein was found unconscious on the floor of his jail cell with marks on his neck, and officials were investigating that incident as a possible suicide or assault.

Epstein had indeed received a cellmate, but that individual was transferred on Friday, one day prior to his death, for reasons that are still being explored by investigators.

Epstein was arrested on 6 July on new sex-trafficking charges.

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His lawyers maintained that the new charges in NY were covered by the 2008 plea deal and that Epstein hadn't had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

The guards failed to follow several protocols leading up to Epstein's death, according to the New York Times.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, has also opened an investigation into Epstein.

Attorney General William Barr condemned the "serious irregularities" at the MCC and demanded a "thorough investigation".

"There are Federal Bureau of Investigation agents conducting enforcement operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands", said Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman Guillermo Gonzalez, declining further comment.

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French ministers seek probe into late accused United States pedophile Jeffrey Epstein