France starts inquiry on whether Epstein committed any crimes in France

25 Août, 2019, 18:26 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A French charity working to protect children against sexual violence said it had collected 10 witness statements of abuse that took place in France

France has opened a preliminary inquiry to see if the late United States financier Jeffrey Epstein committed any sex crimes on French territory or against any underage French victims, the Paris public prosecutor has said.

The Paris Prosecutor's Office announced the investigation on Friday, saying it was instigated after "checks, cross-referencing and exchanges with the competent authorities in the USA".

No further details were immediately provided.

The charges under investigation include rape and sexual assault on minors over the age of 15, rape and sexual assault on minors under the age of 15, criminal conspiracy to commit crimes and association of criminals with a view to committing offences punishable by at least five years of imprisonment, the prosecutor's statement added.

Epstein died on August 10 in his jail cell at the age of 66, and an autopsy report released this month concluded he had hanged himself.

Epstein, a registered sex offender who once socialized with President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state charges of unlawfully paying a teenage girl for sex.

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The move came after growing calls for French investigators to look into allegations of abuse at Epstein's sumptuous apartment near the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Homayra Sellier, who heads the France-based advocacy group, Innocence in Danger, told The Associated Press on Thursday that about 10 women have provided the group with testimony linked to Epstein.

Epstein was also friends with French modelling tycoon Jean-Luc Brunel, who was accused in U.S. court documents of procuring young girls for Epstein, along with allegations of rape.

Shortly afterwards, Brunel issued a rare statement that itself broke years of silence in which he vehemently denied involvement, "directly or indirectly", in Epstein's crimes.

It sparked outrage and disbelief over how such a high-profile prisoner, known for socialising with powerful people including Prince Andrew and USA presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, could have gone unwatched.

Long before the Epstein scandal broke, Brunel was accused of rape by several models in a CBS television documentary released in 1988. At the time she was 18.

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