Suicide in his New York jail cell of the financier and figure of the American jet set Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sexual assault on minors, caused stupor in the United States and unleashed investigations of the FBI and the Ministry of Justice .
Around 6:30 am local time (1030 GMT) on Saturday, “Jeffrey Epstein was found unconscious in his cell”, it is “apparently a suicide,” confirmed the prison administration after the New York Times, including, had announced that he had hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the Manhattan federal prison.
“The staff immediately tried to revive him”, before having him transported to the hospital where his death was pronounced, she added, announcing the opening of an investigation by the FBI.
Justice Minister William Barr said he was “alarmed” by the death in detention of the 66-year-old financier, who “poses serious questions”. He said the ministry's general inspectorate would investigate alongside the FBI.
On July 23, Epstein had already been found lying on the floor of his cell, wounded, with marks on his neck.
Some sources then claimed that he had attempted suicide, but his wounds were minor and he arrived at a hearing shortly thereafter.
It was then subjected to special antisuicide surveillance, but it stopped on July 29, according to the New York Times. He had since been placed in a security prison unit.
While some on social networks did not hesitate to question who would benefit from his death, many simply expressed their amazement at such a denouement, Manhattan federal prison being considered one of the safest United States.
“We need answers, many,” the influential New York Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter.
Mr. Epstein was arrested on 6 July on his return from a trip to France and charged in New York with organizing, from 2002 to 2005 at least, a network of dozens of girls, some of whom were college students, his grip. He had sex with them in his many properties, including Manhattan and Florida.
The testimonies that emerged through court documents painted this brilliant and rich businessman, a former maths teacher, the image of an insatiable predator of young girls, whom he recruited by the dozens and go into his sumptuous residences.
According to several testimonies, employees and recruiters managed to the millimeter a dark schedule, with appointments, transportation, sometimes even private jet, instructions and compensation, often $ 200 to $ 300 per visit, even gifts.
Although her name was already on the sex offender file after a first conviction in 2008 for driving girls to prostitution in Florida – he was then sentenced to a 13-month sentence after a disputed agreement with a sex worker. Federal Attorney – A search of his upscale Upper East Side home in Manhattan in July had uncovered a massage room where he allegedly dragged his alleged victims.
The Miami Herald newspaper investigated the deal in late 2018, reopening the investigation. In July, after Jeffrey Epstein was indicted in New York, former Florida attorney Alexander Acosta, who became Labor Minister of the Trump administration, had to resign.
Hundreds of pages of court documents made public on Friday had confirmed that he had long been a key figure in social events in New York, close to many personalities.
“I've known Jeff for 15 years, a great guy,” said Donald Trump, then a prominent member of the jet set, in an interview in 2002. “They even say he likes pretty women as much as I do, and many are rather young. “
On Saturday, the Republican president retweeted a conspiracy message alleging, without proof, that former Democratic president Bill Clinton, another friend of Epstein, could be linked to his death.
Victims deprived of lawsuit
His former influential friends had claimed after he had been charged that he had not been aware of his alleged crimes and cut off all ties with him.
Indicted on 8 July for the sexual exploitation of minors and criminal conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
His trial was scheduled to begin no earlier than June 2020. He was denied bail, with prosecutors saying he was at risk of fleeing abroad, given his fortune – estimated at more than 500 millions of dollars – and its connections.
For the alleged victims, his death deprives them of a trial they were eagerly awaiting, even though the Manhattan federal prosecutor promised to continue the investigation into his actions and possible accomplices.
“We can never turn the page,” said one of the victims, in a message rebroadcast by her lawyer Lisa Bloom. “You stole that big piece of healing we needed to move on.” “This is not the end anyone was waiting for,” said Brad Edwards, a lawyer for another alleged victim.