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THE apparent suicide of paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein while in federal custody looks “convenient” and must not be allowed to derail an investigation that could shed light on a child-abusing ring that may have involved some of the most powerful men in the world, US politicians and campaigners said today.
Epstein was found “unresponsive” in his cell on Saturday and pronounced dead at hospital. He had been awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy, having previously escaped with a 13-month work release programme sentence in 2008 after a plea bargain that involved him pleading guilty to solicitation of prostitution involving a minor and thus avoiding federal prosecution.
Victims expressed anger at his death, with Jennifer Araoz saying: “We have to live with the scars for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the suicide was “way too convenient — what a lot of us want to know is, what did he know?” Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “We need answers. Lots of them.”
US President Donald Trump and former US president Bill Clinton are among those with records of socialising with Epstein, with Mr Clinton having taken at least 26 flights on the hedge fund manager’s private plane, dubbed the “Lolita Express” because of reports that young girls were forced into sex acts with VIP passengers on board. So is British royal Prince Andrew, who is accused by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, of sexual relations with her when she was a minor — an accusation Buckingham Palace denies.
Mr Trump described Epstein in 2002 as a “terrific guy” who “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” though both he and Mr Clinton have denied any knowledge of the financier’s abuse of children.
At the weekend, the US president retweeted a post from a Terence K Williams alleging that Mr Clinton was connected to Epstein’s death that read: “Died of suicide on 24/7 suicide watch? Yeah right! How does that happen#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead.”
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