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File photo. Jeffrey Epstein AP/PA Images

FBI investigation under way after US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein takes his own life in jail cell

The billionaire was facing federal sex trafficking charges.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Aug 2019

US BILLIONAIRE JEFFREY Epstein has been found dead in jail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

The 66 year old died by suicide, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

The medical examiner’s office in Manhattan confirmed Epstein’s death.

The FBI said this afternoon that it is investigating what it referred to as Epstein’s “apparent suicide”. 

The department’s Bureau of Prisons made the announcement as questions were raised as to how a high-profile inmate who had apparently attempted to kill himself last month could take his life in what is supposed to be a highly secure federal facility in downtown Manhattan.

Epstein had been facing a number of sex trafficking charges in a high-profile federal case in the United States. 

He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The FBI added that staff began life-saving measures when Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell, before being rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Epstein, a well-connected financier whose friends have included President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton, was convicted previously of paying young girls for sexual massages at his Palm Beach mansion.

His arrest last month launched separate investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were first brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago.

Alexander Acosta, a member of Trump’s Cabinet as secretary for labour, resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was a US attorney in Miami.

Unsealed documents

Epstein’s death comes after nearly 2,000 court documents were unsealed in a federal civil case in New York yesterday. 

These documents filed implicate other individuals in Epstein’s alleged crimes, the Miami Herald reported. They were filed by an alleged victim Virginia Giuffre. 

One of them is former US Senator George Mitchell – who was an instrumental figure in the Northern Irish peace process – who was accused with having sex with one of Epstein’s victims. Mitchell has vehemently denied the allegations. 

“In my contacts with Mr Epstein I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls,” he said in a statement. “I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida.”

The files also allege that Prince Andrew groped a young woman’s breast. Statements issued by Buckingham Palace have also denied the claims. 

The court records also contain graphic allegations against Epstein, including his sexual activities with underage girls.

CNN reported that the documents include an Amazon receipt recovered from a bin at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for books ordered in his name containing graphic sexual content.

The documents also include medical records from Giuffre over a period she claimed she was being sexually abused by Epstein and others. 

With reporting from AP, AFP

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