Saturday, 14 December, 2019

Guards 'severely overworked' at time of Epstein's death

United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman during a news conference about the arrest of American financier Jeffrey Epstein in New York USA 08 July 2019 Guards 'severely overworked' at time of Epstein's death
Deanna Wagner | 13 August, 2019, 08:40

Epstein had been alone in his cell when he was found unresponsive Saturday, even though he only recently had returned to the Special Housing Unit from suicide watch, the person familiar with the jail's operations said.

The US Attorney General has strongly criticised the NY prison facility where the accused sex attacker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead this weekend, after apparently taking his own life. "Any co-conspirators should not rest easy", Barr said, speaking at an event in New Orleans on Monday.

McCawley urged authorities to continue their investigation, focusing on Epstein associates who she said "participated and facilitated Epstein's horrifying sex trafficking scheme". Epstein had pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

The FBI and the Department of Justice's Inspector General opened investigations into his suicide while he was in federal custody.

In his remarks on Monday at the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police's National Biennial Conference, Barr said the criminal case against Epstein was personally important to him and that the financier's death denied his victims the chance to confront Epstein in a courtroom.

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

Barr did not say what those irregularities were.

The lawmakers also want information about the Bureau of Prisons' suicide prevention policies and whether they were implemented at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in NY where Epstein was held.

U.S. federal prosecutors said in a court filing that Epstein was worth at least US$500 million (AU$740 million), and brought in more than US$10 million in annual income, NY Mag reported.

Giuffre, now 36, has alleged she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, former US Senator, and architect of the Northern Irish peace deal George Mitchell, ex-New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and American celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

The top two members of the US House Judiciary Committee have asked Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Acting Director Hugh Hurwitz to answer a list of 23 questions related to the policies and procedures of the prison in NY where accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is reported to have committed suicide.

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The details of how Jeffrey Epstein died in his Manhattan jail cell over the weekend have yet to be released, but medical officials have performed an autopsy on the high-profile inmate accused of sexually abusing underage girls.

Schoen said Jeffrey Epstein did not appear to be suicidal and instead, seemed relieved that Schoen would be joining his legal team as they worked on his defense.

After a previous attempt to take his own life, Epstein was placed on suicide watch, but was later removed from suicide watch at the request of his attorney.

"Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered", Barr said in a statement.

He was found hanged in his NY cell on Saturday.

Their call drew a rebuke from French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, who said in a message sent to AFP that it was not up to the government to decide whether to investigate Epstein's activities in France.

At MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed on the night of Epstein's death, according to an official who was not authorized to speak on the record on the matter.

Epstein, 66, had pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

US authorities have said Epstein also had a residence in Paris and used a fake Austrian passport to travel to France in the 1980s.

Another accuser Michelle Licata, who met Mr Epstein when she was 16 and in high school in Florida, said she did not wish him dead.

This story has been corrected to show The Washington Post first reported that one of Epstein's guards wasn't a regular correctional officer, not The New York Times.