30 August 2016
A Rio de Janeiro court on Monday ordered the release of the jailed former top European member of the International Olympic Committee, Patrick Hickey.
He is to be released pending further investigation into charges that he took part in a ring to illegally sell tickets at the just-concluded Rio Olympics.
After a request by lawyers for Hickey, who was also the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland, the court said the 71-year-old Irishman could leave prison.
Hickey had been detained at the maximum security prison since his arrest on August 10.
Hickey must surrender his passport within 24 hours of his release, the court said, and remain in Brazil until investigation into the alleged ticket scheme is completed.
In a statement, Antonio de Almeida, the judge who issued the ruling, said “it is not likely that his release would create any obstacle or risk for public order, criminal instruction or, if necessary, the future application of any penal code.’’
After filing a writ of habeas corpus last week, seeking proof of any wrongdoing to justify his continued detention, Hickey’s Brazilian counsel had said he was hopeful for his release.
The writ had added that Hickey’s age and history of health problems should weigh in his favour.
“In spite of the accusations, there is no evidence that proves Hickey’s involvement in such a scheme,” said Helton Márcio Pinto, a partner at Arthur Lavigne Advogados Associados, the Rio law firm defending Hickey.
The scheme, according to Rio police, allegedly involved the funnelling of Olympics tickets intended for use by the Irish committee and not authorised for resale to THG Sports.
THG Sports is an international sports hospitality company.
Hickey temporarily stepped aside from his Olympic position during the investigation, following his detention in his beach front hotel in Rio during the Olympic Games.
On Saturday, a Brazilian court also authorised the release of Kevin James Mallon, another Irishman and THG director who was arrested days before Hickey and was being held in the same prison.
He left custody late on Saturday but he is not allowed to leave Brazil, his lawyer said.
Police have said they have ample evidence of crimes committed by both men and other suspects in the case.
However, a full investigation and further court proceedings to determine their guilt or innocence could take months.