Court releases jailed IOC exec, bans him from leaving Brazil

Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:50am EDT
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By Rodrigo Viga Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A Rio de Janeiro court on Monday ordered the release of the jailed former top European member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Patrick Hickey, pending further investigation into charges that he took part in a ring to illegally sell tickets.

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 the maximum security prison where he has been detained since his arrest on Aug. 10.

Hickey must surrender his passport within 24 hours of his release, the court said, and remain in Brazil until the investigation into the alleged ticket scheme is completed.

In a statement, Fernando 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 in order to justify his continued detention, Hickey's Brazilian law firm said it was hopeful for his release and that Hickey's age and history of health problems should weigh in his favor.

"Despite 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 funneling of Olympic tickets intended for use by the Irish committee and not authorized for resale to THG Sports, an international sports hospitality company.

Hickey temporarily stepped aside from his Olympic positions during the investigation, following his detention in his beach front hotel in Rio during the Olympic Games.   Continued...

Former top European member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Patrick Hickey (L), arrives at a residential building after leaving the Bangu Jails Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes