Britain's Prince Andrew. (File photo: AP)
LONDON, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Prince Andrew on Saturday said that "at no stage" did he "see or suspect" any criminal behavior of Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in a jail cell in New York two weeks ago while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in June next year.
The Duke of York said in a statement that he wanted to "clarify the facts" around his "former association or friendship" with the US financier, who, 66, was arrested again in July this year.
Expressing "tremendous sympathy" for Epstein's victims, he also said it was a "mistake" to meet Epstein after the American's release from an 18-month prison term in 2010 for prostituting minors.
The statement came as Prince Andrew broke his silence on Saturday after numerous media reports about his alleged links to financier Epstein.
He said, "It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr. Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life. This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr. Epstein."
"Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation," he said.
"I met Mr. Epstein in 1999," he said. "During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences."
"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.
On Monday, a Buckingham Palace statement said that said he was "appalled" by the Epstein scandal after footage emerged of the 59-year-old royal staying in his flat in 2010.