convicted and disgraced Epstein

The United States government launched an investigation Saturday into the apparent suicide in his prison cell of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Attorney General Bill Barr said he was “appalled” to hear of the death and had instructed the Department of Justice’s inspector general to probe its circumstances. The FBI is also investigating Epstein’s death.

“Mr Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement.

Epstein, 66, had been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein, who denied the charges and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted, was denied bail last month in a New York court because he was deemed a flight risk.

He was discovered unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York around 6:30 am (1030 GMT) on Saturday, the US Department of Justice said.

Epstein was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The New York Times and other media quoted officials as saying Epstein hanged himself.

His death comes just over two weeks after the 66-year-old was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt.

It is not clear whether Epstein was on suicide watch following the first attempt.

Source: AFP