Sunday 17 December 2017

'He's in the queue just like anyone else' - Backlog means Hickey faces longer wait in jail

The queue of visitors for Bangu prison (inset: Pat Hickey)
The queue of visitors for Bangu prison (inset: Pat Hickey)
The entrance to Bangu prison, where Pat Hickey is being held. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Pat Hickey will have to wait for a court date in Rio over accusations he was involved in a ticket-touting cartel.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach had claimed that Mr Hickey would appear in court yesterday.

However, a solicitor for the 71-year-old, who stepped aside as Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest six days ago, confirmed that this would not happen.

Now a senior manger of Rio de Janeiro's judicial processing unit has revealed that it will be Friday, at the earliest, before Mr Hickey will get a hearing.

Pat Hickey. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Pat Hickey. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

She said there were more than 800 cases on her desk to deal with since August 5 and these were being processed chronologically.

"There is a queue and he's in the queue just like anyone else, there is no fast-tracking," she said.

The entrance to Bangu prison, where Pat Hickey is being held. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The entrance to Bangu prison, where Pat Hickey is being held. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"Other people came in first [on August 5], he only came in on the 19th."

Mr Hickey's lawyer confirmed: "The judiciary recess ended today, and the prosecutor has not yet presented his case before the judge, so it will not be possible for the judge to whom the case will be assigned to already be aware of the matter."

Women queue with food parcels in the pouring rain for hours to visit relatives at the notorious Bangu Prison in Rio de Janeiros where Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon are reportedly sharing a cell. Pic Steve Humphreys
Women queue with food parcels in the pouring rain for hours to visit relatives at the notorious Bangu Prison in Rio de Janeiros where Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon are reportedly sharing a cell. Pic Steve Humphreys

The backlog in the Brazilian legal system is due to regular courts being closed for the duration of the Rio Olympics. Mr Hickey's case only appeared on the courts' system on August 19.

He has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

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

His solicitor has completely denied the allegations. Rio-based lawyer Arthur Lavigne said Mr Hickey was arrested "under mere assumptions" and claimed the police probe "has no legal support".

In a statement, released yesterday, Mr Hickey's legal team said: "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 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."

Police had claimed that Mr Hickey had attempted to evade officers when they arrested him at the Hotel Windsor Marapendi in the Tijuca district of Rio last Wednesday, August 17.

Officers also claimed that his wife Sylviane had told them Mr Hickey had already left the country. They located him a short time later in an adjoining room at the hotel.

However, his solicitor has denied these claims.

He said: "Mr Hickey did not try to escape as informed by the police. He was sleeping already for two days in one of the three rooms that were allocated to him and his family, due to an insomnia, and he did not want to disturb his wife.

"It would be ridiculous to try to escape and go to the next room, which was officially booked to him... The video shot during his arrest shows that he was awakening at that very same time, wearing a robe.

"His wife was took [taken] by surprise with almost 10 men standing on her door at 6am, and panicked. Mr Hickey did not resist to the arrest order, and all the rest is unreal story told to make the headlines."

Following his arrest, Mr Hickey was taken to the nearby Hospital Samaritano after complaining of chest pains.

He was questioned by police before being moved in the early hours of Friday to a cell in the Bangu prison complex. He is sharing a cell with fellow Irishman Kevin Mallon.

Irish Independent

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