French child protection group urges Epstein investigation

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference in New York Monday

Attorney General William Barr says investigators found "serious irregularities" at a federal prison in Manhattan where disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein apparently committed suicide.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has ordered immediate changes in leadership at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in NY following Jeffrey Epstein's death.

He added: "We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability".

Mr Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, vowed to carry on the case against anyone complicit with Mr Epstein.

Epstein was being held without bail on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges to which he pleaded not guilty.

But after a week of psychological evaluations, he was reportedly removed from that watch and downgraded to "special observation status", a secondary and less restrictive set of safeguards that still required two correctional officers to alternate checks on him every 30 minutes, according to the New York Post.

One person familiar with the incident told AP that the morning of Epstein's apparent suicide, the guards were working overtime because of staffing shortages.

Corrections officers at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center had been forced to work overtime to make up for staffing shortages, according to United States media.

Epstein wasn't on a suicide watch at the time even though he had been earlier because of a previous apparent attempt to kill himself.

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In a statement, Mr Barr "directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign" warden Lamine N'Diaye to a regional office, pending a full investigation.

Epstein's death raises questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of such high-profile inmates.

The filing came in a long-running lawsuit by alleged victims who said prosecutors violated their rights by failing to consult them about Epstein's plea agreement, which was made on condition that Epstein cooperate with the Florida state prosecutors.

The Innocence en Danger group said in a statement on Tuesday it had written to the Paris public prosecutor to urge France to open an investigation into Epstein. That's what our attorney general, our great attorney general, is doing.

The order comes one day after Barr raised alarm about "serious irregularities" at the MCC prison and decried the facility's "failure" in being able to secure Epstein.

Epstein, who was about 6 feet tall, apparently committed suicide by kneeling toward the floor before strangling himself with the bedsheet noose, the source told the news outlet on August 12.

Some left-wing activists accused the president of endorsing - what they call - conspiracy theories that connect Epstein's alleged suicide to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Epstein's death is the latest black eye for the Bureau of Prisons, which was already was under fire over the October beating death of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger at a federal prison in West Virginia. According to media reports, Epstein had been taken off suicide watch. New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson hasn't released the results of Sunday's autopsy "pending further information".

Catherine Linaweaver, who retired in 2014 after 16 months as the MCC's warden, said some people were overreacting to Epstein's suicide because he was well known.

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