(Belga) Two years after the suicide in prison of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sex crimes, the trial of his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell begins Monday in New York. He will have to determine if she recruited between 1994 and 2004 a network of underage girls for the financier and his entourage.
The daughter of the press magnate Robert Maxwell – born near Paris on December 25, 1961 and who has triple French, British and American nationality – faces life imprisonment after debates which are to last six weeks. According to the complex American criminal procedure, the trial technically began in mid-November with the final selection of 12 jurors in Manhattan federal court. Ghislaine Maxwell has been imprisoned since the summer of 2020 in New York, a year after the death in August 2019 in her cell of her former companion, the American financier Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sexual exploitation of dozens of minors and for which she is suspected for playing the role of “reel”. The almost sixty-year-old, a well-born celebrity who has lived free from want, has been complaining for 18 months, via her lawyers, about her conditions of detention in a Brooklyn prison. She had denounced mid-November in the British newspaper Mail on Sunday of “attacks for a year and a half”, the fact of being deprived of sleep and having only “rotten food”. As a result, his brothers and sisters seized on November 22 in Geneva the UN working group on arbitrary detention – independent experts – to denounce “serious violations of the rights of the defense and the presumption of innocence, unworthy and degrading treatment “that their sister would undergo in prison,” where she has been held in solitary confinement for 500 days in an unjustified manner “. The facts with which he is accused date back to the decade 1994-2004. The accusation is based on four anonymous plaintiffs – two of whom were only 14 and 15 years old – who say they were approached by “touts”, including Ms Maxwell, near their school or at work. Then, after cinema sessions or shopping “with girlfriends”, the young girls were persuaded, for a few hundred dollars, to come and give a massage, presented as non-sexual, to a powerful New Yorker ready to take their career off the ground. . According to US federal prosecutors, the accused also participated in the sexual assaults with her partner, either at her home in London or at his home in Manhattan, Florida and New Mexico. After her trial, Ms Maxwell is also expected to be tried for perjury for having testified in 2016 in defamation proceedings she brought against Ms Giuffre, who accuses her of playing the go-between for Prince Andrew. Virginia Giuffre is not one of the four plaintiffs against Ghislaine Maxwell. The names of other personalities could be cited from Monday, including that of the former French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel, a close friend of Jeffrey Epstein, indicted and imprisoned in Paris in December 2020 for rape and assault sexual. The defense should argue that the alleged sex crimes go back more than 20 years – a psychologist will enlighten the court on the phenomenon of “false memories” – and especially that Ms. Maxwell is being tried instead of the main protagonist. She will therefore plead not guilty to the six charges for which she faces up to 80 years in prison, but is not expected to speak at the hearing. (Belga)