Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Olympics

Rio ticket scandal: Pat Hickey breaks his silence after release from Bangu prison

By Cathal McMahon in Rio de Janeiro

Pat Hickey has been released from preventive custody in Rio de Janeiro after 11 nights behind bars.

The 71-year-old, who temporarily stood down as Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest on August 17, was driven to the gate in a black Honda Accord.

Dressed in a blue shirt Mr Hickey emerged from the vehicle at 10.45am (2.45pmGMT) briefly to hand over a number of documents to prison guards.

He then returned to the car before being driven from the Gericino Penitentiary, known locally as Bangu.

Mr Hickey has been accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

On Monday a judge ordered his release from prison citing Mr Hickey's "critical health" and stating there were no grounds for him to be imprisoned.

Mr Hickey was scheduled to be freed from Bangu Prison on Monday night but delays in the courts system meant it was this morning/yesterday before the necessary paperwork was available.

Despite repeated claims by his solicitor that Mr Hickey's voice was not being heard the former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member did not address the assembled media during his brief public appearance.

Instead he was shielded from view by one of the people who collected him from the jail.

In a statement released this afternoon, however, Pat Hickey said: "I have been released from the police detention system. I will now stay in Rio and my lawyers will proceed to have the charges laid against me set aside as there is no substantive proof of any wrong doing on my part.

"I would like to thank the prison authorities for their kindness they have shown to me. Due to my medical condition, I will be making no further statements."

Unlike other inmates released from Bangu prison Mr Hickey was not forced to walk up the long avenue to the entrance.

He has been brought to an apartment in Rio where he will be held under house arrest.

In court documents, seen by the Irish Independent, a judge said there is no evidence against him aside from "generic accusations or presumptions".

Judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida said his release will not present any risk to public order or to penal law being applied.

Documents lodged to the court on Monday claimed his health state is a reason to release him and to put him under house arrest.

It was claimed that Mr Hickey is in a state of "critical health".

Judge de Almeida said that preventive imprisonment can only be applied when the maximum sentence for a crime exceeds four years. None of the crimes that Mr Hickey has been accused of on its own carries a sentence of four years.

"Considering all this I revoke the preventive prison order and now he has cautionary measures replacing his detention," Justice de Almeida wrote.

The order also stated that Mr Hickey cannot leave the country and his passports remain with the relevant authority.

Mr Hickey was arrested at the Windsor Marapendi in Barra de Tijuca on August 17.

Brazilian Civil police claim he facilitated the transfer of Olympics tickets to UK-based THG via the OCI's Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) Pro 10. THG were restricted from selling tickets to the Games.

After spending a night in the Hospital Samaritano Mr Hickey was moved to Bangu 10 - a processing jail within the large facility.

He was held in preventive custody for 11 nights. A solicitor for his family argued that during his incarceration he became unwell and lost his appetite.

Anne Marie James claimed Mr Hickey had asked for mosquito spray over concerns about diseases like malaria and Zika in prison.

He also suffers from a serious heart condition.

He shared a cell with THG director Kevin Mallon (36) who had been arrested by police on the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony on suspicion of ticket touting. Police subsequently found 823 tickets, many of which had been issued to the OCI, in his bedroom.

At the weekend Mr Mallon was released on strict conditions from Bangu.

He appeared in court yesterday (Mon) to sign on and is required to do so every 15 days. Under the terms of his release Mr Mallon has been banned from events and premises connected to the upcoming Paralympics.

He is prohibited from being absent from the district without the permission of the court.

He has also been given an 8pm curfew each night. His passport will remain with the authorities.

The court originally ordered that he wear an electronic tagging device but when authorities went to release him they realised that there were none available. It later emerged that they were having difficulties paying the supplier of the devices.

There was no suggestion on Mr Hickey's order that he would be required to wear an electronic tracking device.

Mr Hickey's family are due to meet with Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan on Wednesday to call in the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland “and let them know we’re watching”, Ms James said.

“Who else is going to stand up for Irish citizens abroad?” she asked.

The solicitor added that Brazilian police had ‘flagrantly abused’ the concept of the presumption of innocence.

Mr Hickey's arrest was filmed and broadcast on the internet. Ms James claimed the footage “was an attempt to degrade him.”


From Belfast Telegraph