Ex-Olympic boss Hickey set to return home after paying €420,000 bail
Patrick Hickey is set to return from Brazil imminently after a court in Rio de Janeiro ruled his passport could be returned to him.
The judgment paves the way for the 71-year-old to board a flight home after his legal team lodged a bail payment of €420,000.
Last night there was no sign of Mr Hickey at Rio's international airport, where a series of flights left for Europe.
Allowed to leave for health reasons, the former OCI president has already scheduled heart surgery in Ireland.
He could still be required to return to Brazil for a trial, expected early next year.
If he does not attend, the trial could proceed without him.
Mr Hickey is accused of being at the centre of an international touting ring in Olympic tickets issued to the OCI, a charge he strongly denies.
He was arrested at his five-star hotel during the Olympic Games on August 17.
The court order, signed by judge Marcello Rubioli, is dated December 7 but was only published yesterday morning.
It said he is free to leave the country, but must continue to respond to his criminal charges and maintain a lawyer in Brazil.
Mr Hickey secured the BRL 1.5 million (€420,000) required as a security payment via a loan from the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), an organisation where he previously served as vice-president.
The court has accepted charges have been accepted against Mr Hickey, and another Irish suspect who remains in Brazil, Kevin James Mallon, a 36-year-old executive of the firm at the centre of the scandal, THG Sports.
Yesterday, the court also ruled that Mr Mallon's bail could be cut to BRL 750,000 (€210,000) after an appeal by his legal team. The executive's ultimate boss, British businessman Marcus Evans, is said to be worth £765m (€910m).
Eight others, including four other Irishmen, are also charged. Prosecutors have accused the 10 of, variously, ticket touting, forming a criminal cartel, illicit marketing, embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering.
Clients of THG Sports were sold tickets worth €380 for up to €7,000 under the "cover" of a hospitality package, police said. Only authorised firms can resell tickets and to facilitate ticket touting in Brazil carries up to four years in jail.
Mr Mallon was arrested with 823 tickets, most marked as originating from Irish Olympic authorities, while hosting a party for clients, one of whom told police he paid $206,000 (€193,000) for hospitality packages on the day of the Opening Ceremony.
That started a cascade of revelations that led to the dawn arrest of Olympic Council of Ireland president Mr Hickey on August 17. Police said he was found in a separate suite from his wife, who told them her husband was already in Ireland.
After their arrests, Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon were detained at the notorious Bangu prison complex in Rio. The pair were since released but ordered to report to a special Olympic court on the 20th day of every month and to remain at an address in Rio after 10pm.