Sunday 23 October 2016

Pat Hickey: 'This has been a life-changing experience for me... I am humbled by the support of thousands in Ireland'

Vows to prove his innocence, and insists he is not under house arrest in Rio

Claire Murphy and Cathal McMahon

Published 11/09/2016 | 18:31

Pat Hickey. Photo: Reuters
Pat Hickey. Photo: Reuters

A BULLISH Pat Hickey has broken his silence in Rio de Janeiro to insist he will fight all the charges laid against him by the Brazilian authorities.

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The 71-year-old, who temporarily stood down as President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) following his arrest on August 17, learned late on Friday that charges against him had been accepted by a judge in Rio.

Brazil: Pat Hickey
Brazil: Pat Hickey

Mr Hickey sought legal advice from his team following the decision and it is expected there will be a court hearing this week.

But, in a statement released to this evening, Mr Hickey has said he is "completely innocent" of all such charges, insisted that he is not under house arrest in Rio, and vowed to fight to clear his name.

He also said he has been "heartened" by support from "thousands of people in Ireland" and elsewhere.

"I have just received formal notification from the Brazilian authorities of the charges laid against me," Mr Hickey said in the statement.

"For clarity, I am not under house arrest as, like with so many things with this case, has been misreported by the media.

"I intend to face all the charges and to fight each and every one of them.

"I am completely innocent of all such charges and I will also vigorously defend my good name and character that I have spent my lifetime building through voluntary service for numerous sporting bodies.

"I believe in the Brazilian judicial system and I am confident that I will be discharged of all accusations.

"This has been a life changing experience for me, my wife, my 4 children and my 5 grandchildren and my priority is to recover my health and see my family as soon as possible.

"I have been very heartened and humbled by the outpouring of support, letters, texts and emails from the thousands of people in Ireland and from the international sporting world.

"I will be making no further comment until the case has been concluded."

Last week, public prosecutor Marcos Kac charged Mr Hickey, THG director Kevin Mallon and eight others with ticket-touting, ambush marketing, theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association.

The exact charges, and who they have been laid against, are contained in an 8,000 word court document.

On Friday, Judge Juliana Leal de Melo of the Fan and Major Events Court also ordered the passports of Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon be retained by the court and that Mr Hickey present himself before it every 20 days. She also ordered him to observe a 10pm curfew and banned him from attending events linked to the Rio Paralympic Games.

Despite this, Mr Hickey's legal team are confident that he could still get his passport back at a hearing this week.

However, police in Rio de Janeiro say it is "extremely unlikely" that Mr Hickey would be permitted to return to Ireland while his case is before the courts, regardless of how long the legal process would take.

Investigator Aloysio Falcao said: "I don't think this is possible. There is no process before the courts and this would most likely not happen."

Both Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon were also warned on Friday that any breach of their strict bail conditions could see them being returned to prison.

Also charged alongside Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon are directors or employees of THG Sports and Pro 10 Sports Management. They include Irishmen David Patrick Gilmore, Michael Glynn, Ken Murray and Eamonn Collins, Brits Marcus Paul Bruce Evans and Martin Studd and Dutchman Maarten Van Os. Also charged is Mallon’s interpreter Barbara Zancope Carnieri.

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