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Update: USA: Ghislaine Maxwell to appear in court via video feed for arraignment

MANHATTAN, USA. Ghislaine Maxwell is due to appear on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court via video feed for arraignment and bail arguments involving her alleged participation in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of minor girls.

The British friend of Epstein is requesting bail, while prosecutors are fighting her release before trial.

Maxwell, 58, was arrested on 2 July at her Bradford, New Hampshire estate. She is charged in a 17-page indictment with conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury. If convicted, Maxwell faces up to 35 years in federal prison.

In court papers Monday, prosecutors opposed Maxwell’s bail request by insisting that she is an “extreme risk of flight” owing to her vast wealth and background. Maxwell is a citizen of France, the UK and the US, possessing passports for all three countries. France, they noted in court papers, “does not extradite its citizens to the United States pursuant to French law”.

Maxwell, they further claimed, “appears to be skilled at living in hiding”. When FBI agents arrived at her “remote” 156-acre property, Maxwell “tried to flee”. Agents discovered a “cellphone wrapped in tin foil” which they maintain was “a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection … by law enforcement”.

Prosecutors also said they learned that Maxwell “had hired a security company staffed with former members of the British military to guard the defendant at the New Hampshire property, in rotations”.

“There are no conditions of bail that would assure the defendant’s presence in court proceedings in this case. Accordingly, any application for bail should be denied,” they wrote.

“As this court has noted, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented health risk to incarcerated individuals, and Covid-19-related restrictions on attorney communications with pre-trial detainees significantly impair a defendant’s ability to prepare her defense,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote Friday in their argument for bail. “Simply put, under these circumstances, if Ms Maxwell continues to be detained, her health will be at serious risk and she will not be able to receive a fair trial.”

They are asking the judge to release Maxwell on a $5m personal recognizance bond co-signed by six financially responsible individuals, backed by real property in the UK worth more than $3.75m. Maxwell’s legal team also proposed limiting the onetime jet-setter’s travel to the New York City region, turning in all her passports, requiring home confinement in New York City with GPS location monitoring, and curtailing visitors to immediate family, close friends and attorneys.

Prosecutors also revealed in their court filing that they expect “one or more victims will exercise their right to be heard” at Maxwell’s arraignment, “and will urge the court not to grant bail”.

the guardian

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