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Almost Hick-free Several charges against former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey dropped

A spokesperson for the Courts Service in Rio de Janeiro said charges were removed from the Hickey case because 'the state lost the opportunity to punish'

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Pat Hickey on the streets of Leblon in Rio de Janeiro.

Pat Hickey on the streets of Leblon in Rio de Janeiro.

Pat Hickey on the streets of Leblon in Rio de Janeiro.

Several charges against former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey, who was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 as part of an investigation into alleged illegal ticket sales, have been dropped. 

A court in Brazil has removed some of the charges facing Mr Hickey who was detained on the eve of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Three of the charges against Mr Hickey, along with Kevin Mallon, director of sports hospitality company THG, and Brazilian woman Barbara Carnieri, were dropped due to “extinction of punishability”.

Mr Mallon and Mr Hickey who were accused of a range of offences, including ticket touting for the Rio Olympics of that year, have maintained their innocence.

In a previously unreported decision on October 18, a charge relating to the use of Rio 2016 logos, products or services for economic advantage without the correct permissions was formally dropped, as was a tax evasion charge.

A charge levelled against the three under Article 41-F of a Brazilian sporting law, which deals with ticket touting, has also been dropped, because too much time has elapsed.

However, according to the Irish Times, further charge under Article 41-G of that same criminal code has been maintained.

This refers to the organisation of ticket touting, rather than the physical act of selling, and carries a penalty of two to four years in jail, which can be increased by one-third if the guilty party was a public servant or worked for a sporting entity.

A charge of criminal association, which is defined as to “promote, constitute, finance or integrate, personally or through an intermediary, a criminal organisation”, remains active, too. It carries a jail term of three to eight years.

Charges of larceny, which carries a penalty of three to 10 years’ imprisonment plus a fine, have also been maintained. Brazilian law allows for penalties to increase if the crime is committed repeatedly or through a criminal organisation.

A spokesperson for the Courts Service in Rio de Janeiro said charges were removed from the Hickey case because "the state lost the opportunity to punish" due to the time that had elapsed, and the length of sentencing ascribed to such crimes.

In Brazil, criminal organisation, defined as to "promote, constitute, finance or integrate, personally or through an intermediary, a criminal organisation", carries a penalty of three to eight years in prison and a fine.

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In the October ruling, the Rio de Janeiro court set a date of 23 November 2021 for "instruction and judgment" on the case, but this hearing was postponed on request by Mr Mallon's defence team.

The Courts Service in Rio de Janeiro confirmed that lawyers had requested additional time for "carrying out other measures".

RTE reports that an earlier date was set for this hearing four years ago, in November 2017, and the prosecution listed 13 witnesses. However, just weeks before the court date, Mr Mallon's team were granted an injunction from the Supreme Court in Brasilia.

Two weeks previously they had been denied a separate Habeas Corpus claim by the same judge.

While a new date has not yet been set for the hearing, a note on the case file dated 13 May 2021 outlined advice from SEREI (Rio de Janeiro Courts Service Sector for Rogatory, Extradition and Interpretation) that a minimum of eight months would be needed for rogatory compliance.

Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon left Brazil in December 2016, having each paid a bond to the Brazilian courts.

Mr Hickey paid a bond of BRL$1.5m, equivalent to around €410,000 at the time.

RTE added that it is not clear whether the men will have to appear in person in Rio de Janeiro once a new court date has been set as such a decision is at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Defence lawyers for the two men have maintained their clients' innocence since they were arrested in 2016.

In five years they have made several submissions to courts in Rio de Janeiro, as well as to the Supreme Court in Brasilia, suggesting a "lack of just cause".

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