By Kunle Adedoyin
Disgraced American Multi-billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead in his prison cell in New York, in what appeared to be a suicide.
His death which occurred ahead of his facing trial on sex trafficking charges however is being probed by the United States government.
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.
The 66-year-old, who was being held without bail in a Manhattan jail, was accused of abusing dozens of underage girls as young as 14 in New York and Florida.
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.
He had pleaded guilty in 2008 to prostitution-related charges involving underage girls, in exchange for the Justice Department’s agreement not to prosecute him on similar charges.
Epstein served 13 months in jail and agreed to register as a sex offender under the 2008 plea deal, which many considered too lenient.
His lawyers had argued the agreement barred federal prosecutors in Manhattan from pursuing the latest case over the same conduct.
However, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said there was no such block.
Epstein had also been appealing Berman’s denial of his request to remain under house arrest in his $77m (£64m) mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side while awaiting trial.
His death comes as court papers were unsealed in which a woman claimed Prince Andrew had touched her breast at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.