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R Kelly gets bail request denied

Kelly is currently holed up in Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Centre on charges that include sex trafficking, racketeering and child pornography.

Singer R. Kelly. Picture: AFP

LONDON - R Kelly has had his request to be bailed amidst the coronavirus pandemic denied.

The Ignition hitmaker was hoping he would be freed from jail as the virus spreads across the US and the world as he argued his age and his hernia surgery put him at high risk of catching the virus.

Kelly is currently holed up in Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Centre on charges that include sex trafficking, racketeering and child pornography.

Brooklyn federal judge Ann Donnelly said in a ruling on Tuesday: "While I am sympathetic to the defendant's understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release."

In papers filed in US District Court in Chicago, his lawyers claim the singer is within the category of people described as high-risk by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and therefore should be allowed to self-isolate away from other prisoners. The filing also claims that sanitiser and soap are scarce in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, where the majority of inmates are kept in small, two-person cells that make social distancing difficult.

Kelly's lawyers stated: "The visitor's bathroom on the entry-level floor of the MCC frequently has no soap or paper towels available, which makes it difficult for individuals entering the facility to adequately clean their hands before visiting.

"The courts have long recognised that there is no greater necessity than keeping a defendant alive, no matter the charge."

The singer has been unable to meet with his lawyers because of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is believed his lawyers wanted to check on Kelly's wellbeing as well as discuss his legal strategy, but the Bureau of Prisons in Illinois has insisted jail staff are suspending visits for the next 30 days in an attempt to keep the respiratory illness at bay.