Saturday 24 September 2016

Sports firm director released from Brazil jail in Olympic tickets probe

Published 28/08/2016 | 09:26

Pat Hickey was arrested at a Brazilian hotel last week
Pat Hickey was arrested at a Brazilian hotel last week

A sports hospitality boss arrested by police in Rio de Janeiro over an alleged ticket-touting operation has been released from prison, his company said.

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Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, was freed on bail on Saturday night. He has been in the high-security Bangu prison in Brazil since August 5 on charges of mis-selling Olympics tickets.

He was arrested in possession of hundreds of tickets earmarked for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI); some were for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

The authorised ticket reseller is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management.

THG said it had legitimate customers for its tickets and Mr Mallon was acting as a collection agent for them in Rio, meeting clients.

THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

In a statement, THG Group said: "We will continue to work to secure Kevin's full release and his return to Dublin.

"Meanwhile, THG is providing full support to Kevin and his family, and will continue to seek to ensure their privacy at this difficult time."

Mr Mallon has been held alongside OCI president Pat Hickey, whose family this week urged the Irish government to intervene over his "degrading and humiliating" ordeal.

The 71-year-old was arrested at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area last week and Rio police said he 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 always denied any wrongdoing.

Through a solicitor, Mr Hickey's family said they are extremely concerned about the manner of his arrest, his detention in the high-security Bangu prison and the impact on his health.

They also voiced worries about "pre-trial disclosure of what is purported to be evidence to the media" and Mr Hickey's "right to a fair hearing, given the prejudicial way in which he has been treated to date".

Family solicitor Anne Marie James said: "This arrest and detention occurred over seven days ago and still no charges have been brought, nor has an appropriate venue for a bail application been made available to Pat Hickey.

"The Hickey family is gravely concerned about the effect this degrading and humiliating ordeal has had on their father and grandfather, and how it continues to affect his physical and mental health.

"He has a serious heart condition and they are extremely anxious that he would be immediately released on bail and given the opportunity to respond to the accusations.

"They also, as a priority, want to get him home to Ireland as they have increasing concerns about his safety."

The family are demanding Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Sports Minister Shane Ross "urgently intervene" in the case.

They are also seeking meetings with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Brazilian ambassador to Ireland Alfonso Jose Cardoso.

Mr Hickey has temporarily stepped aside from his roles as OCI president and a member of the International Olympic Committee's ruling executive board.

He was also in charge of the influential umbrella group for Europe's Olympic bodies.

Press Association

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