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Saturday 10 December 2016

From 6-star hotel to Bangu 10 - the fall of 'very evasive' Olympics boss Hickey

Pat Hickey being taken from the Hospital Samaritano in Rio to be questioned by police Picture: Sportsfile
Pat Hickey being taken from the Hospital Samaritano in Rio to be questioned by police Picture: Sportsfile

Disgraced Olympics boss Pat Hickey has traded his six-star hotel suite for a cramped and dingy prison cell.

Mr Hickey (71), who was arrested at the Hotel Windsor Marapendi on Wednesday by Brazilian police, has been moved to maximum-security Bangu prison - home to some of the country's most notorious criminals.

Last night, prison authorities confirmed Mr Hickey would be sharing a cell with one other person on his first night.

The spokesperson added that all prisoners were treated equally in the notorious Rio jail.

Mr Hickey, who was arrested in connection with the ticket tout scandal and has stepped aside as head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), had sought habeus corpus bail appeal on the grounds that his detention was unlawful.

However, this was rejected by a Brazilian court on Thursday.

Mr Hickey, who denies any wrongdoing, is locked up at the Bangu 10 facility. It is likely he will be moved to another unit in the coming days. Fellow Irishman Kevin Mallon (36), who is being held as part of the same investigation, is housed at the Bangu 8 prison.

Refused

Speaking to the Herald Ricardo Barboza de Souza, head of the Civil Police Fraud Unit in Rio, said Mr Hickey was "evasive" when he spoke to police.

Immediately following his arrest Hickey was brought to the Hospital Samaritano after complaining about a heart condition.

Commissioner Barboza said Mr Hickey had pleaded with police officers to remain in the hospital citing an ongoing medical condition, but they had refused this request.

Mr Hickey was questioned for two hours by officers from Commissioner Barboza's unit on Thursday evening after being taken by wheelchair from the hospital in the Barra district near the Olympic Park.

Commissioner Barboza said Mr Hickey refused to answer a number of questions.

"He was very evasive in his answers. He wasn't really saying anything much.

"He was basically seeking his lawyers' help.

"Questioning didn't bring out anything conclusive. He made no confession."

It is understood Mr Hickey's legal team were present throughout police interviews. Due to the Olympics, the judiciary is not sitting and is not due to return before Tuesday.

Police in Brazil began their investigation into Mr Hickey and THG ticket sales following a "tip-off" from soccer legend Romario.

Commissioner Barboza began to probe the fraud after the former Barcelona star spoke in the Brazilian parliament. Explaining the link to Romario, Commissioner Barboza said: "Romario, who is a former footballer, is now an important politician here. He has had various political jobs. He tipped us off in 2012.

"He already denounced Pat and said there is something going on here.

"That was a very big factor."

Mr Hickey now faces three charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing.

Commissioner Barboza explained their investigation is focusing on email contact between Mr Hickey and Marcus Evans, the owner of THG sports and Ipswich Town Football Club. The OCI said yesterday evening that it would be making no further statement on Mr Hickey.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Shane Ross said a retired judge is to be appointed to investigate the alleged ticket scandal.

Mr Ross also indicated a clear out of the Olympic Council of Ireland's senior executives could be on the cards.

The minister has said the independent inquiry into the Rio ticketing scandal should not shy away from tough questions.

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