By Peter Hutchison | AF |
Disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein has committed suicide in prison while awaiting trial on charges that he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex, US news media reported Saturday.
Epstein, a convicted sex offender who befriended numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, The New York Times and other media said, quoting officials.
His body was found around 7:30 am (1230 GMT) on Saturday and taken to a hospital in New York, added the reports.
The US prisons authority did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.
The city medical examiner’s office confirmed Epstein’s death but said nothing about what caused it or the time of death. It said a medical investigation has been opened.
The 66-year-old’s death comes just over two weeks after he was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt.
Epstein did not appear to be showing any visible signs of injuries when he appeared in court on July 31 following that incident, to be told that his trial wouldn’t begin before June next year.
The hedge fund manager had been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
He was denied bail last month in a New York court because he was deemed a flight risk.
Epstein denied the charges and had faced up to 45 years in prison — effectively the rest of his life — if convicted.
The Metropolitan Correction Center, a federal facility in Manhattan that is often used to house suspects awaiting or during trial, is considered one of the most secure penal establishments in the US.
The infamous Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman spent more than two years there before being convicted and transferred to a federal prison in Colorado.