Monday 20 November 2017

Pat Hickey 'looking forward' to his trial in Brazil, insists he will be cleared

Pat Hickey is hoping to appear by video link in front of a Rio court. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Pat Hickey is hoping to appear by video link in front of a Rio court. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Alan O'Keeffe

THE former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey is “looking forward” to his trial in a Brazilian court this November because he insists he will be cleared.

The trial will begin in Rio de Janeiro on November 29, it was confirmed yesterday – which is almost a full year after he left Brazil. 

He faces a series of charges, including ticket touting, but it seems unlikely that he will travel to Brazil to appear at court in person.

His legal team stated previously he hoped to be able to participate in the trial through a video link.

A source close to Mr Hickey said last night he was looking forward to the trial as “he

believes he will be cleared”.

He had previously been forced to remain in Brazil upon his release from prison, after his arrest during last year’s Olympic Games. 

Mr Hickey was given permission to return to Ireland last Christmas, citing medical grounds, and on payment of a bond of €410,000 to the courts.

Prosecutor Marcos Kac said last week that if Mr Hickey did not return to Brazil for trial, that his bond would be retained locally.

However, Mr Hickey’s legal team have suggested their client may testify by video link, at the discretion of the judge.

Justice Guilherme Schilling Duarte published a statement on the Rio de Janeiro courts system to set the date, and stated that only accused Pat Hickey and a co-accused Kevin Mallon had responded to criminal accusations relating to the ticket touting controversy so far.

Both have declared they are innocent of charges against them.

A Brazilian woman arrested alongside Mr Mallon has not responded. Other defendants, originally listed in the Hickey case, have been summoned ‘por edital’ (by publication), in a separate and ongoing criminal process.

In his written statement, Mr Justice Schilling Duarte said that the respective defence teams of Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon had “confused themselves” with the “mérito” (material substance of the case).

Both defence teams argued that no crime was committed by their clients, and cited a lack of evidence to the contrary.

The judge commented that, while the arguments of legal teams “will be resolved during the course of the instruction”, there is just cause to proceed with the criminal trial. 

“I verify the presence of all of the conditions necessary for the ignition of penal action, with especial emphasis on just cause.” He said there was “no hypothesis for summary

absolution”.

OCI general secretary Dermot Henihan will be called to testify in the criminal case against former OCI President Pat Hickey and Irishman Kevin Mallon in Brazil later this year.  Mr Henihan is among thirteen witnesses to be called by the prosecution in the case involving alleged ticket touting during last year Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The judge will hear the testimony of the three accused; at least thirteen witnesses for the prosecution; and whatever witnesses are called by the defense.  The prosecutor, and each of the three defense teams, will have a right to question each of the witnesses.

It is expected that the case will finally be judged in January, or February 2018.

Neither of the defense teams for Pat Hickey nor Kevin Mallon has yet formally requested that their clients present to the courts via video conferencing, rather than returning to Rio.

.  Any such request would be dealt decided by the judge, on its merit.

For video conferencing to be acceptable by the courts, they rely on cooperation from a court in the other jurisdiction, which would host the testimony by the defendant, or witness.

In Brazilian courts, if defendants do not appear, the justice system is not obliged to invite them to participate in any further audiences with the court.  Any such court case would be able to  go ahead  with or without them.

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