NewsCrime Desk

Pat Hickey released from Rio’s notorious Bangu prison

Pat Hickey leaving Bangu Prison in a car with blacked out glass in Rio de Janeiro. Pic Steve Humphreys 30th August 2016
Pat Hickey leaving Bangu Prison in a car with blacked out glass in Rio de Janeiro. Pic Steve Humphreys 30th August 2016

Former OCI President Pat Hickey has been released from prison in Brazil.The 71-year-old was freed at 10.45am local time before being driven from Gericinó penitentiary (Bangu) in north west Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Hickey got out of the car briefly to hand over papers at the exit of the prison before being driven away in a black Honda Accord.

Mr Hickey was brought to an apartment in the city where he will be held under house arrest.

Mr Hickey made no comment to waiting media.

He was due to be released on Monday but legal bureaucracy in the city meant he was forced to spend another night in the notorious prison.

On Monday a judge ordered Mr Hickey's release from prison citing the 71-year-old's “critical health” and stating there were no grounds for him to be imprisoned.

In court documents Judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida said there is no evidence against him aside from "generic accusations or presumptions".

The judge said his release will not present any risk to public order or to penal law being applied.

Documents lodged to the court on Monday claimed that his health state is a reason to release him and to put him under house arrest.

It was claimed that Mr Hickey is in a state of "critical health".

Judge de Almeida said that preventive imprisonment can only be applied when the maximum sentence for a crime exceeds four years.

"Considering all this I revoke the preventive prison order and now he has cautionary measures replacing his detention," Justice de Almeida wrote.

The order also stated that Mr Hickey cannot leave the country and his passports remain with the relevant authority.

Mr Hickey temporarily stood down as Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest at the Windsor Marapendi on August 17.

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

Brazilian police claimed that he facilitated the transfer of Olympics tickets to UK-based THG via the OCI's Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) Pro 10. THG were restricted from selling tickets to the Games.

After spending a night in the Hospital Samaritano Mr Hickey was moved to Gericino Prison – known locally as Bangu – in North West Rio.

He was held in preventive custody for 10 nights in the prison. His solicitor argued that during his incarceration he became unwell and lost his appetite.

Solicitor Anne Marie James claimed Mr Hickey had asked for mosquito spray over concerns about diseases like malaria and Zika in prison.

He also suffers from a serious heart condition.

He shared a cell with THG director Kevin Mallon (36) who had been arrested by police on the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony on suspicion of ticket touting. Police subsequently found 823 tickets, many of which had been issued to the OCI, in his bedroom.

At the weekend Mr Mallon was released on strict conditions from Bangu.

He appeared in court on Monday to sign on and is required to do so every 15 days. Under the terms of his release Mr Mallon has been banned from events and premises connected to the upcoming Paralympics.

He is prohibited from being absent from the district without the permission of the court.

He has also been given an 8pm curfew each night. His passport will remain with the authorities.

The court originally ordered that he wear an electronic tagging device but when authorities went to release him they realised that there were none available. It later emerged that they were having difficulties paying the supplier of the devices.

There was no suggestion on Mr Hickey's order that he would be required to wear an electronic tracking device.

Earlier Mr Hickey's Irish based solicitor argued that he should be released immediately.

“Whether you like the man or not, the Department of Foreign Affairs have to represent him,” Ms James told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

“Ticket touting is not murder,” she added.

The family are due to meet with Minister for Foreign Affairs  on Wednesday to call in the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland “and let them know we’re watching”, she said.

“Who else is going to stand up for Irish citizens abroad?” she asked.

The solicitor added that Brazilian police had ‘flagrantly abused’ the concept of the presumption of innocence.

Mr Hickey's arrest was filmed and broadcast on the internet. Ms James claimed the footage “was an attempt to degrade him.”