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France seeks foreign witnesses in Epstein probe

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Paris (AFP)

French police on Friday launched an appeal for foreign witnesses in a probe into alleged crimes committed in Paris by disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in an American jail while awaiting trial on charges of abusing minors.

Police said it was seeking victims and witnesses with information relevant to the French investigation opened in August.

The appeal was also issued in English, and stated that "given the complexity of the case and its international implications we are again asking victims and witnesses to come forward".

Epstein, who was arrested in New York in July on charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, was found hanged in his New York jail cell on August 10 while awaiting trial over abuses involving girls at his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the Caribbean.

His ownership of an apartment in the heart of upmarket Paris and allegations from women who say they were abused in France prompted French prosecutors to open their own criminal probe in August.

Philippe Guichard, head of the Central Bureau for Violent Crime of the Paris police force which is handling the investigation, said the appeal was translated into English "to reach out to foreign victims or witnesses".

"The judical police are mobilised and ready to receive statements from victims and witnesses of sexual harassment or assault," the appeal read.

The French investigation has been focused on French modelling agent and former Epstein associate Jean-Luc Brunel, himself accused in American court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for his friend.

Guichard told AFP the agent's social circle had not opened up to investigators and people who did come forward had "found it hard to identify themselves and get in touch with us".

Eight people presenting themselves as victims and four witnesses have given testimony, a judicial source told AFP.

Brunel's lawyer in October said he vehemently rejected allegations made in the press but denied his client was on the run, insisting he was available for questioning.

French police in September raided the offices of Karin Models, an agency founded by Brunel, and searched Epstein's luxury Paris home not far from the Arc de Triomphe.

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