United States prosecutors said on Thursday that surveillance footage taken from outside the jail cell of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein in the period surrounding his first apparent suicide attempt was permanently deleted by mistake.
Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown Manhattan “inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier” of the jail, and footage from outside Epstein’s cell from July 22 and 23, 2019 “no longer exists”, prosecutors said.
Corrections officers responded at about 1:27am on July 23 to Epstein’s cell, prosecutors said, when the accused sex offender was believed to have first attempted suicide.
The missing video was disclosed in a federal court filing in Manhattan in New York City, in a case involving Epstein’s cellmate at the time.
Epstein died on August 10, 2019 at age 66, in what was ruled a suicide. An autopsy found that he hanged himself.
The death prompted a shake-up at the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, including the removal of its acting chief and the warden at MCC.
Two MCC jail officers were charged in November with falsifying records to cover up their alleged failure to check on Epstein in his final hours.
Epstein died five weeks after his arrest on federal charges that he trafficked dozens of underage girls from at least 2002 to 2005.
Some accusers have said Epstein engaged in sexual misconduct dating back to the mid-1980s.
Epstein had pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors could still file charges against his alleged accomplices.
SOURCE: Reuters news agency