In yet another twist to the infamous case of American paedophile and sex offender Jeffery Epstein, the surveillance video footage of his first reported suicide attempt has been 'accidentally' deleted. The incident had taken place on July 23, last year, outside his cell in the Manhattan jail.
What was the importance of the video clip?
Epstein, who was in the special protective unit of the jail, was found lying semiconscious on the floor outside his cell. There were visible marks on his neck, which the jail officials described as a result of his alleged suicide attempt. Following the incident, the sex-offender was sent under jail's suicide watch.
Two days after the incident, Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer and Epstein's cellmate, had placed a request for the surveillance video footage around their cell. Tartaglione who was arrested for drug-related murders said that it was him who had saved Epstein's life after his first suicide attempt. He made the request through his lawyer, Bruce Barket.
In December, last year, Barket had said that the authorities told him the surveillance video could not be found. The lawyer wanted the video, to be used in case Tartaglione was given a death sentence for his crimes, and the footage could be used to argue against Tartaglione's execution.
How the surveillance footage got deleted?
In a written document submitted to the US District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors said that the video got deleted due to a jailhouse computer error.
In their court filing, the prosecutors said that while reviewing the video last week, it was found that the footage, though captured on the correct date and time period was of a different tier than the one where Epstein and Tartaglione's cell was located. "The video that was preserved showed a different, incorrect cell for Tartaglione — which the MCC computer system had mistakenly listed as being occupied by Tartaglione," the filing revealed.
"When Barket first request the video in July, a lawyer for MCC "looked up [Tartaglione's] cell number in the MCC computer system and thereafter requested that MCC staff preserve video from outside of that cell for the requested time period. Therefore, when MCC legal counsel asked that the video outside of [Esptein's cell] be preserved, the MCC preserved video outside the other cell, not the one containing Epstein and Tartaglione. As a result, video from outside [Tartaglione's] cell on July 22-23, 2019 (i.e. the requested video) no longer exists," prosecutors wrote.
Video clip also deleted from the backup system
Prosecutors further went on to reveal that the said video was also deleted from the backup systems. "Although there was a backup system in place that housed all video for the Special Housing Unit where Epstein was being held, including the video requested by Barket, the FBI has found that the requested video no longer exists on the backup system and has not since at least August 2019 as a result of technical errors," they said.
Reacting to the latest development, Barket said that the various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to that video were deeply troubling. "We are going to request a hearing to determine what exactly happened. The video would further corroborate the events of July 23 and we believe would have supported our client's position that he acted appropriately that evening," he added.
Is it another conspiracy?
Epstein was arrested in July, on a number of charges of trafficking young women and underage girls for sexual gratification between 2002 to 2005. The 'sex slaves' were employed at his homes in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, where he used to entertain his guests, including sacked Prince Andrew.
A well-connected business tycoon who had close ties with who's who of the world, Epstein was a former friend of US President Donald Trump and former US President Bill Clinton. He was found hanging in his Manhattan jail cell, in August last year. The death of the 66-year-old, who had previously attempted suicide on July 23, was ruled out as suicide by hanging, thus giving birth to many conspiracies leading to his death.
He was awaiting his trial for sex-trafficking. Ever since then, the Bureau of Prisons, which operates MCC, along with other federal agencies has been investigating his death. Two jail guards were slapped with criminal charges over their failure to check Epstein and other inmates in the jail.