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Ireland's Pat Hickey released from Rio prison while ticket case is investigated

A Brazilian judge has ordered the release of a high-ranking International Olympic Committee member who was arrested during the Rio de Janeiro Games in a ticket-sale probe.

Judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida accepted on Monday a request made by Pat Hickey's lawyers to set him free from Rio's Bangu prison complex, where he has been held since August 19, while his case continues to be investigated.

Mr Almeida said there is no indication that Mr Hickey could pose a risk to the public or obstruct the investigation. He must remain in Brazil and hand over his passport.

Police said the 71-year-old plotted with businessmen to transfer tickets illegally to a vendor who was not authorised to sell them, and they want prosecutors to start a judicial process against Mr Hickey for alleged ticket scalping, conspiracy and ambush marketing.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said earlier this month that Mr Hickey decided to "step aside temporarily" as an IOC member and from all his other Olympic positions "until this matter is fully resolved".

Mr Hickey is also president of the OCI, head of the European Olympic Committees and vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

The order for Mr Hickey's release came two days after an Irish businessman also investigated in the alleged scheme was released on bail from the same prison.

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The August 5 arrest of Kevin Mallon, head of the British ticket and hospitality provider THG Sports, set the chain of events in motion.

He was arrested with hundreds of tickets, including some that were officially allocated to Ireland's committee, police said. THG was not Ireland's authorised ticket reseller for the Summer Games.

Authorities estimate the alleged scheme could have netted about £2.29 million in profits, as tickets were being sold for high fees disguised as hospitality services.

Rio police have already questioned three other OCI executives whose passports, phones and laptops were seized in an Olympic Village raid hours before the closing ceremony of the Games. Police say they are considered to be witnesses.

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