Friday 2 December 2016

Pat Hickey could be freed within days, claim Rio lawyers

Cathal McMahon

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Former OCI president Pat Hickey leaves Rio's Hospital Samaritano Barra in a wheelchair Photo: Brendan Moran
Former OCI president Pat Hickey leaves Rio's Hospital Samaritano Barra in a wheelchair Photo: Brendan Moran

Lawyers in Brazil have claimed a case against former Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey has a slim chance of succeeding and he could be freed in days.

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Yesterday it was revealed that Rio de Janeiro police who arrested Mr Hickey are now going to launch an international probe into his bank accounts.

Ricardo Barboza de Souza, head of the Civil Police Fraud Unit in Rio, claimed his officers are going to look for help from the Irish Government in their bid to probe the bank accounts of all individuals allegedly involved in the Rio 2016 Olympics ticket touting scandal.

Read more: Exclusive: Pat Hickey's legal team issues first statement, claims reasons for jailing 'not supported by evidence or proof'

Mr Barboza said this evidence, if attained, would be crucial in their investigation.

But now Brazilian solicitors have claimed the police probe is flawed and Mr Hickey is likely to be freed shortly.

Mr Hickey, who temporarily stepped down as OCI president after his arrest in Rio de Janeiro last Wednesday, remained locked up in Brazil's largest prison this weekend. His solicitor has released a statement to the Irish Independent claiming that he was arrested "under mere assumptions" and claimed the police probe "has no legal support".

Rio-based lawyer Arthur Lavigne, who took over as the 71-year-old's solicitor last Thursday, said: "Mr Hickey has been arrested due to suppositions that are not supported by any material evidence or proof of the alleged facts presented by the police. His arrest has no legal support.

Read more: Police in Brazil hunt for Pat Hickey's money

"The investigation did not bring one single slight indication that Mr Hickey could be involved with the facts therein investigated, and his detention was required by the police authority under mere assumptions."

The 71-year-old was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area last Thursday and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pain before he underwent cardiac tests. After being discharged, he was taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation.

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

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law but is a preliminary step in that direction. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Evidence

Now general and criminal law solicitor José Carlos De Castro Pereira, who is not involved in the case, has revealed that Mr Hickey could be released in the coming days if police are unable to back up their evidence.

Read more: Former OCI president Pat Hickey has head shaved, being treated like 'any other prisoner' - Brazilian authorities

He said: "According to Brazilian law if there is a lack of evidence, if there is no proof of any financial transfer, if the emails that they have are not strong enough, he will be released."

"There is a good chance that this entire case will be thrown out for lack of evidence."

But Mr Pereira said that Mr Hickey will not be able to return to Ireland at that point, as police are likely to hold on to his passport.

"Once the judiciary returns on Tuesday there is a strong chance he will be released. It all depends on the strength of the emails that police have. Either way, the police will keep Mr Hickey's passport until the case is completely concluded."

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach confirmed yesterday that Mr Hickey will appear in court tomorrow.

Read more: Rio controversy: From 5-star luxury to prison  

Speaking on the sidelines of an IOC executive meeting in Rio at the end of the Olympic Games Mr Bach told reporters: "Mr Hickey will have his first hearing by a judge next Tuesday."

Meanwhile, a judge is due to be appointed this week in Ireland to head an independent inquiry into the alleged ticketing scandal. The OCI has said it will fully co-operate with the inquiry.

The authorised ticket reseller (ATR) contracted by the OCI is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management. The company said it had legitimate customers for its tickets and Kevin Mallon, the other man who was arrested in Rio, was acting as a collection agent for it in Rio, meeting clients. THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

Irish Independent

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