For one of the most high-profile inmates in America to find a way to kill himself in his jail cell is shocking enough.

When that inmate had apparently just been removed from “suicide watch” after attempting to take his own life weeks before, it is almost beyond belief.

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The US Attorney General is not the only American “appalled” by the death of Jeffrey Epstein after an “apparent suicide” in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan.

Mr Barr says Epstein’s death “raises serious questions that must be answered”.

For the dozens of young women who have made accusations against Epstein, his death has robbed them of the chance to see him face justice.

Jeffrey Epstein
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The financier had been on suicide watch

It is not clear when the 66-year-old financier, being held on charges of the sex trafficking of minors, had been removed from the protection of suicide watch.

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Just over two weeks ago, he had been found unconscious on the floor of his cell, with bruises around his neck.

It was not clear at the time whether the injuries were self-inflicted or as the result of an assault but it came just days after his application for bail had been refused.

Yet, although he was being held in the MCC’s Special Housing Unit, separated as a high-profile inmate from the general prison population, he was not apparently being monitored for self-harm at the time of his death.

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Federal guidelines stress that a suicide watch can only be ended if the co-ordinator of the programme has carried out a “face to face evaluation”.

Cameron Lindsay, a former federal prison warden, described Epstein’s death as an “unfortunate and shocking failure”.

He added: “Unequivocally he should have been on active suicide watch and therefore under direct and constant supervision.”

Mr Barr has ordered an investigation by the Department of Justice’s inspector general and the FBI will also probe the details surrounding Epstein’s death.

His history of connections to the rich and famous combined with the release this week of court documents implicating powerful figures from the worlds of business and politics in his lifestyle, has already generated rumours and conspiracy theories about his death.

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The lawyer for one of his accusers says his death, coming so soon after the release of those documents, “is no coincidence”.

The former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein tweeted: “Paedophiles facing federal criminal charges are at high risk for suicide. Detained paedophiles require special attention. Stopping people from harming themselves is difficult.”

It is the possibility that the truth of his life and crimes will now never emerge that is causing most anger.

In a letter to Mr Barr, Republican Senator Ben Sasse wrote: “Every single person in the Justice Department – from your main headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer – knew that thus man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him.”

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