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US Attorney General Bill Barr has said the death of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein “raises serious questions that must be answered”.

Epstein, who was awaiting trial on charges he trafficked underage girls for sex, died in an apparent suicide in a New York prison this weekend.

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The US Department of Justice and the FBI are investigating as politicians, law enforcement officials and alleged victims expressed shock that Epstein could take his own life, when a recent reported suicide attempt meant he should have been under close watch.

Epstein, a convicted pedophile who befriended numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, was found unresponsive in his cell around 6.30am local time yesterday at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York from “an apparent suicide,” the US Department of Justice said.

-Noah Harte