Tuesday 6 December 2016

Police thought Pat Hickey had escaped until they saw his open suitcase

Jamil Chade

Published 18/08/2016 | 02:30

Pat Hickey answers the door to Brazilian police at the Windsor Hotel in Rio on Wednesday morning
Pat Hickey answers the door to Brazilian police at the Windsor Hotel in Rio on Wednesday morning

I received a call, very early in the morning - 5am Brazil time. The police were beginning an operation at the Windsor Hotel at around 6am.

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They went to the hotel, which is in the Barra district and is the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Rio, and is also where Pat Hickey was staying. The police went into the hotel and went directly to his room and knocked on the door.

His wife opened the door and she said he wasn't there. She said she didn't know where he was.

She looked nervous.

Age

For a second, the police thought that he had escaped but they saw his shoes, socks and his open suitcase which was still in the room.

So they began to search the hotel - they went to the gym, the breakfast room, the restaurant.

Then someone realised that his son was also staying at the hotel and had a room in his name.

Pat Hickey answers the door to Brazilian police at the Windsor Hotel in Rio on Wednesday morning
Pat Hickey answers the door to Brazilian police at the Windsor Hotel in Rio on Wednesday morning

They went to his son's room and Mr Hickey answered the door - he hadn't escaped at all.

His passport, identification, a return air ticket, three laptops and two mobile phones were all taken from him.

Because of his age and his condition, the doctor at the hotel advised that he be taken to the hospital as a precaution. He was then brought to hospital and is due to be transferred to the police station for questioning later.

At the press conference, the police outlined the three crimes that he has been suspected of: formation of a criminal association, sales of illegal ticketing and marketing without authorisation.

Last week, when police confiscated the tickets, they could see who bought the tickets by referring to the code - it was the OCI. Mr Hickey was the man responsible.

The police officers had seized about 1,000 tickets which were sold for amounts well above the price set by the  Olympics organisation.

Pat Hickey and his wife Sylviane with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2014
Pat Hickey and his wife Sylviane with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2014

But many of these tickets were referenced to OCI members. Many of them were on behalf of the OCI, including high value tickets for the opening ceremony.

If it was just one or two tickets that had been found, you might say it was a travel agent who had bought them.

So the police suspected that it was either a scam or a system to transfer the tickets to a company that could sell them.

Police said the tickets included some for the opening and closing ceremonies and top athletic events including the men's 100-metre final.

All of the tickets were voided after the arrests, police said.

What happens now for Mr Hickey remains to be seen.

He can be detained for a number of days, as soon as he is released from hospital.

What normally happens in a case like this in Brazil, is that lawyers can file an injunction to get him to wait for trial, under house arrest, with a deposit of a couple of thousand dollars.

Threat

If there is a threat of an individual fleeing, the judge will have to consider this too.

This is a huge story in Brazil. It's a big scandal.

Read More: IOC say arrest is matter for the Irish

There was another story during the World Cup where another company was involved - a person from FIFA was involved in a ticket touting scandal.

This time the situation is very similar.

There is a lot of suspicion over the Olympic Games - suspicion of corruption, money laundering and ticket touting.

And this latest story only adds to the concern Brazilian people had about the organisation of the Games here in Rio.

Irish Independent

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