Thursday 8 December 2016

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

Cathal McMahon in Rio de Janeiro

Published 21/08/2016 | 10:35

Olympics Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Olympics Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Pat Hickey is being held in a notorious Brazilian jail due to "suppositions that are not supported by any material evidence or proof" - his solicitor has claimed.

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In a statement, released to Independent.ie, Rio-based lawyer Arthur Lavigne said Mr Hickey was arrested "under mere assumptions" and claimed the police probe “has no legal support”.

Controversey: Pat Hickey is escorted by police in a wheelchair at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Controversey: Pat Hickey is escorted by police in a wheelchair at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Mr Hickey, who has temporarily stood down as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, was arrested at his hotel early on Wednesday morning, by police from the Rio Police fraud unit.

He is facing three charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing.

Pat Hickey with Sports Minister Shane Ross and Annalise Murphy,
celebrating her silver medal win
Pat Hickey with Sports Minister Shane Ross and Annalise Murphy, celebrating her silver medal win

Brazilian police claim he and others were behind the large-scale touting of tickets for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The 71-year-old is currently in custody at Brazil's largest prison Bangu, on the outskirts of the city that is playing host to the 2016 'Games.

Police said he was 'evasive' in interviews and no formal response has been given to the media before today.

In a statement, given to Independent.ie, Mr Lavigne wrote: "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.

The Bangu Prison where Hickey is being held. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
The Bangu Prison where Hickey is being held. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"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."

Mr Hickey was previously represented by the OCI and a series of statements were released by the body in the immediate aftermath of his arrest.

But on Friday evening the OCI confirmed that Mr Hickey was “receiving his own legal advice”. They went on to say that he is “entitled to natural justice and due process”.

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

Bangu Prison where (inset left) Kevin Mallon and (right) Pat Hickey reportedly share a cell
Bangu Prison where (inset left) Kevin Mallon and (right) Pat Hickey reportedly share a cell

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This call was echoed by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach on Saturday.

Speaking at a media conference Mr Bach explained: “What we know is that he has not been heard by a judge yet and, more so, the presumption of innocence prevails.

“We respect the laws and legal procedures here in Brazil and cannot comment further on this,” he said.

Mr Hickey temporarily stepped aside as an IOC executive board member, head of the European Olympic Committee and the OCI after his arrest.

Mr Bach said there would be no disciplinary commission to investigate Mr Hickey because the Irish man had temporarily stepped down from his IOC positions as well.

Authorities in Brazil say the OCI nominated THG Ticket agency last year to act as its authorised ticket reseller (ATR) for the Rio Olympics. THG previously acted as the official reseller for the OCI at the London 'Games in 2012 and the Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014.

The Rio organisers rejected THG and authorities claim the recently formed Pro10 effectively acted as “a bridge” to get tickets from the OCI to THG.

Two weeks ago police attached to Commissioner Ricardo Barboza de Souza's unit pounced on THG employee Kevin Mallon at a hotel in Rio.

Commissioner Barboza claims that Mr Mallon hosted a cocktail party for wealthy Brazilians at the Next Hotel in the city where OCI tickets with face value of R$1,400 (€383) were being sold for up to $8,000 (€7,070).

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