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Ghislaine Maxwell put on suicide watch ahead of sentencing, lawyers say

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Imprisoned former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been placed under suicide watch – despite not being suicidal – according to her lawyers, who said they would move to delay her conviction for sex trafficking if she remained in isolation.

“Mrs. Maxwell was abruptly removed from the general population and returned to solitary confinement,” attorney Bobbi Sternheim wrote in a letter to Judge Alison Nathan on Saturday.

She has no access to legal documents and no time to meet with lawyers and this has “prevented her from preparing for the sentencing”, which is scheduled for Tuesday, he added.

Maxwell, who was convicted in New York federal court for aiding the late financier Jeffrey Epstein in sexually abusing girls, was put on suicide watch without a psychological evaluation “and without justification,” Sternheim said.

A psychologist evaluated the 60-year-old on Saturday and “determined that she is not suicidal,” he added.

Maxwell’s attorneys said she was transferred after reporting threats to her safety by MDC employees to the Inspector General of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Maxwell declined to explain why she feared for her safety, prosecutors said.

Maxwell’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Bureau of Prisons said it would not comment on the incarceration conditions of any particular inmate.

If Maxwell remains on suicide watch, her lawyers will move Monday to delay her sentencing, Sternheim said.

The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell was convicted late last year of five of six sexual abuse cases, the most serious for minors in the sex trade, and her sentence could amount to an effective life sentence behind bars.

Prosecutors have requested that Maxwell be sentenced to between 30 and 55 years in prison.

Her attorneys have called on Nathan to issue a sentence less than the US Probation Agency’s recommended 20 years, citing a traumatic childhood and claiming that Maxwell is being unfairly punished because Epstein escaped trial.

Epstein committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crime trial in New York.

Maxwell has been incarcerated for about two years after her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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