Saturday 17 March 2018

Former OCI chief can leave Brazil to get heart op at home before trial

Pat Hickey: health conditions. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pat Hickey: health conditions. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Cathal McMahon and Matt Sandy

Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has been told he can return home on health grounds.

The 71-year-old, who was arrested in his hotel in Rio de Janeiro at the Olympics in August, is facing charges in relation to alleged ticket touting.

However, in a written judgement last night a Brazilian judge ordered that he can have his passport back.

Ms Justice Juliana Leal de Melo of the Special Court for Supporter and Large Events in Rio de Janeiro, which had jurisdiction during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, made the order which has been published on the official courts website.

Mr Hickey has been ordered to pay a bail bond of R$1,500,000 (€410,753).

The judge said that given the fact Mr Hickey had no link to Brazil there was a risk of him not returning for a trial.

However, she balanced this by saying that the defendant needed to get "health treatment".

Along with the bail bond, Mr Hickey has been ordered to be available for the process.

The judge wrote: "Thus, certified the payment of the bail, hereby fixed, as well as rendered the commitment of co-operation with the justice by the defendant, I authorise the release of the passport of the same, as well as that the defendant leaves the country to treat his health."

Mr Hickey and THG director Kevin Mallon are facing charges of ticket-touting, illicit marketing and money-laundering in Brazil.

Both deny all allegations made against them in relation to ticketing at the event.

The judge said there was no just cause to stop proceedings against Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon from going ahead.

Last month Mr Hickey's solicitor Simone Kamenetz told the Irish Independent that the former OCI president needed emergency surgery.

She said: "I can tell you that Mr Hickey is sick.

"He suffers from atrial fibrillation, and the cardiologist who saw him already twice, Dr Claudio Domenico, a well- known and reputable physician, established that Mr Hickey's situation is preoccupying.

"Mr Hickey must undergo a delicate heart procedure and he should be allowed to do it with his doctors that have been following his health conditions already for years, with his family alongside him.

"This is a humanitarian issue. Mr Hickey will not hide from the Brazilian justice, mostly because it is his desire to be totally cleared of all accusations.

"But if he is obliged to stay here for years, he will not be alive to see the end of this case."

A number of Mr Hickey's former colleagues had also spoken up on his behalf since his arrest at the Games.

Acting president of the European Olympic Committee Janez Kocijancic said: "Patrick Hickey is still detained in Brazil.

"He was charged with criminal offences and we do not think he committed them.

"We hope he will be allowed home to prepare to prove his innocence."

Irish Independent

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