Lawyers for embattled Olympic Council of Ireland official Pat Hickey have urged Brazilian authorities to transfer him from the notorious Bangu prison to house arrest because he is facing a wait of up to three months to be either charged or freed writes Irish Examiner political reporter Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.
Local solicitor Simone Kamenetz made the call as she lodged a second bail request for the 71-year-old OCI president, who is at the centre of multi-million euro ticket-touting scandal claims.
Speaking to reporters in Rio yesterday, Ms Kamenetz said her client “has done nothing wrong so he cannot understand why he is there”.
Stressing he will not be “a flight risk” because Brazilian police “have his passports” — a standard passport and a frequent flyer business document — Ms Kamenetz said her client is struggling in prison and “doesn’t have an appetite”.
She added that Mr Hickey told his wife to return to Ireland in recent days as she would have faced a “30-day” wait to see him in jail.
Under Brazilian rules, people placed in prison who are over the age of 80 and have health conditions can be transferred to “domiciliary jail” — in effect house arrest — based on their circumstances, with some people of younger age also benefiting from the rule.
Any request by Mr Hickey’s lawyers for him to be transferred to house arrest can only take place after a fresh bail application is lodged and goes through the system from the beginning.
This is because an initial bail request lodged last week has already been rejected.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline programme yesterday, Rio police commissioner Aloysio Falcao said he is not opposed to the decision to potentially transfer Mr Hickey to house arrest.
However, he said the move is up to the judge but Mr Hickey must not be allowed to leave Brazil while the inquiry continues for “between one and three months”.
Mr Falcao said “the Brazilian system is not unfair” and that he was “going to talk to the judge” yesterday.
However, asked about whether Mr Hickey will eventually be charged, Mr Falcao said the case is complicated and that investigations will not conclude for “between one and three months”, adding: “I don’t know how it works in Ireland but we have to make sure that people don’t run away from the country, otherwise it’s going to be impossible to inquire them.”
Mr Falcao’s Liveline interview caused considerable debate online yesterday after presenter Joe Duffy repeatedly questioned the police commissioner over the decision to video Mr Hickey’s arrest and to place him in a notorious prison.
Meanwhile, Rio police have also said they want to speak to Transport Minister “Shane Ross, the Irish government, and police” about Ireland’s own non-statutory inquiry into the scandal launched this week.
Mr Falcao said he wants to make contact with Mr Ross to “share” information at the centre of the investigations which remain focussed on alleged ticket-touting.