herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hickey taken straight to rio police station from hospital bed

Pat Hickey is wheeled from the Hospital Samaritano in Rio Picture: Sportsfile
Pat Hickey is wheeled from the Hospital Samaritano in Rio Picture: Sportsfile

Pat Hickey was being questioned by Brazilian police last night over his involvement in an alleged ticket-touting fraud after leaving hospital in a wheelchair escorted by police.

Mr Hickey, who stood aside temporarily as Olympics Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, was moved from the hospital near the Olympic Park yesterday afternoon.

He was helped into a waiting black Ford Fusion car before being driven to the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli, in the centre of the Brazilian city.

Police are now planning to question him about his role in an alleged ticket scam which came to light after fellow Irishman Kevin James Mallon (36) was arrested on the day of the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Games.

Mr Hickey is facing three charges: facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel, and ambush or illicit marketing.

Brazilian detectives say the offences carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

The OCI last night issued a statement confirming the latest development: "The Olympic Council of Ireland can confirm that Pat Hickey has been discharged from hospital and has been accompanied to a police station to complete a deposition."

On Wednesday night William O'Brien, first vice president of the council, vowed to defend Mr Hickey and the association.

Defence

He told media at the private Hospital Samaritano, after visiting Mr Hickey: "We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That's all I can tell you."

When asked about the charges Mr Hickey faces, Mr O'Brien said: "No comment, because as you can understand he is having all sorts of tests inside, so he has made no comment about the allegations. We have really restricted access, that's all I can tell you."

Mr Hickey was arrested at the Hotel Windsor Marapendi, na Barra da Tijuca at 6am on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old explained he had a heart condition and as a result was brought to the private Hospital Samaritano instead of a police station.

He received a number of visitors, including OCI General Secretary Dermot Heneghan, and was 'hooked up' to a number of medical machines and drips according to sources.

He was flanked by a number of armed police officers throughout his treatment. Friends could speak to him, but police intervened when visitors attempted to hand him anything or show emails.

There was no sign of Mr Hickey's wife Sylviane at the hospital throughout yesterday.

A Brazilian legal team arrived shortly before midday. and a lengthy consultation took place inside the hospital throughout the afternoon.

Those at the meeting declined to speak to reporters afterwards.

Condition

Earlier, members of the Brazilian military police were spotted outside the hospital and there was a regular police presence throughout the day.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said they could not provide any update on the patient's condition.

She would not reveal the cost of Mr Hickey's treatment but added most of the patients have private medical insurance.

Mr Hickey is now being questioned at the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli in downtown Rio.

It is possible he will be sent to Rio's Bangu 8 prison, but his lawyers could also request house arrest from a court, which would require him to wear an electronic tag. There are six criteria for house arrest, including being over 80. The only criteria that might apply to him is if he is "extremely debilitated by serious illness" - but that would depend on a medical assessment.

There is no deadline on the order against him for his preventative detention, which was issued as police believe it might hinder the investigation if he left the country.

In theory he could be detained for as long as criminal proceedings against him, potentially months or even years. His lawyers can request his provisional release at a State court. They can appeal this judgment twice, eventually to a federal court.

At a press conference, Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed it has had no communication with Mr Hickey as he is in hospital.

Mr Adams claimed the IOC had no details on the charges Mr Hickey may face and he said Mr Hickey was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

IOC delegates get up to €900 in expenses for days that they are travelling on official visits.

Mr Adams could not confirm if Mr Hickey was still in receipt of these expenses, and said that he would check this.

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