Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Patrick Hickey was released from prison in Brazil last night after nearly two weeks in custody.
However, the 71-year-old who has temporarily stepped aside from his role, has been warned to remain in Brazil while serious ticket touting investigations continue, a situation which could go on for a number of months and lead to him being charged in relation to the case.
Mr Hickey looked frail as he emerged from the Bangu 10 jail in Rio de Janeiro at 10.45am local time and made no comment to journalists as he was driven away in a black Honda Accord to an apartment in the city.
On Monday, a judge ordered his release, saying that his “critical health condition” meant he should no longer be kept at the high-security prison.
However, Brazilian police have stressed this does not mean he has been cleared of any wrongdoing and that investigations are continuing into the scandal that has overshadowed the Olympics.
“I have been released from the police detention system,” Mr Hickey confirmed in a statement last night. “I will now stay in Rio and my lawyers will proceed to have the charges laid against me set aside as there is no substantive proof of any wrongdoing on my part.
“I would like to thank the prison authorities for their kindness they have shown to me. Due to my medical condition, I will be making no further statements.”
Mr Hickey was arrested on August 17 at his five-star hotel near the Olympic Park. After spending a night in hospital, he was remanded to the notorious Bangu 10 jail.
Police arrested him after discovering that many of the 823 tickets seized from a suspected Olympic touting ring originated from Irish Olympic authorities.
He is accused of facilitating touting, which carries a sentence of two to four years; forming a criminal cartel, which has a sentence of between one and three; and illicit marketing, which carries a sentence of six months to one year.
In a statement welcoming Mr Hickey’s release, the Olympic Council of Ireland said it is pleased its president, who has “temporarily” stepped aside, is no longer being held in prison.
Mr Hickey’s family are due to meet Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan in Dublin this week as they continue to push for Government help in ensuring his return to Ireland.
However, speaking on RTÉ yesterday, Mr Flanagan said he wants to “make it clear” that he cannot intervene in another country’s legal system.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved