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Ex-Irish Olympics boss Pat Hickey grilled over ticket tout allegations after leaving hospital in a wheelchair

By Cathal McMahon

Published 19/08/2016

Former OCI president Pat Hickey, who has stood down amid allegations that he was involved in a ticket touting scam
Former OCI president Pat Hickey, who has stood down amid allegations that he was involved in a ticket touting scam

Former Olympics Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey was being questioned last night over his involvement in an alleged ticket touting fraud after being escorted from hospital in a wheelchair.

Mr Hickey, who stood aside temporarily as OCI chief after his arrest in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, was moved from the hospital near Olympic Park.

He was helped into a waiting black Ford Fusion before being driven to the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli, in the centre of the Brazilian city.

Police aim to question him about an alleged ticket scam that came to light after fellow Irishman Kevin James Mallon (36) was arrested on the day of the opening ceremony.

Mr Hickey is facing three charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing.

Brazilian detectives said that the offences carry a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison.

The OCI said last night: "The OCI can confirm that Pat Hickey has been discharged from hospital and has been accompanied to a police station to complete a deposition".

Ahead of the latest developments, William O'Brien, first vice-president of the council, vowed to defend Mr Hickey and the association.

He told reporters at the private Hospital Samaritano: "We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That's all I can tell you."

When asked about the charges Mr Hickey faces, Mr O'Brien replied: "No comment because as you can understand he is having all sorts of tests inside, so he has made no comment about the allegations. We have really restricted access, and that's all I can tell you."

At a Press conference, Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that it has had no communication with Mr Hickey in hospital.

Mr Adams claimed that the IOC had no details on the charges Mr Hickey may face, and said he was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

He said IOC president Thomas Bach may look to speak to Mr Hickey, but added it was very difficult to contact the Irishman.

Mr Hickey was arrested at a room in the at the Hotel Windsor Marapendi, na Barra da Tijuca at 6am on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old explained that he had a heart condition and as a result was brought to hospital. He received a number of visitors, including OCI general secretary Dermot Heneghan.

He was flanked by armed police officers throughout. Friends could speak to him, but police would intervene if visitors attempted to hand him anything or show emails. There was no sign of Mr Hickey's wife, Sylviane, at the hospital.

A spokeswoman said they could not provide any update on a patient's condition.

After leaving the hospital, Mr Hickey was taken to the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli in downtown Rio.

It is possible he will be sent to the notorious Bangu 8 prison, but his lawyers could also head to court to request house arrest, which would require him to wear an electronic tag.

Belfast Telegraph

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