Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey was released from hospital and brought straight to a police station for questioning yesterday.
It was expected that Mr Hickey would spend the night in prison. He could be held in Bangu 8, the same notorious jail on the outskirts of Rio as Kevin James Mallon, the Irish THG executive arrested on August 5 when nearly 800 OCI-allocated tickets were seized.
Mr Hickey could also be kept in a police cell. His lawyers could request house arrest from a court, which would require him to wear an electronic tag. There are six criteria for house arrest, including being over 80. Mr Hickey is 71. The only criteria that might apply to him is if he is “extremely debilitated by serious illness” — but that would depend on a medical assessment.
There is no deadline on the order against him for his preventative detention, which was issued as police believe it might hinder the investigation if he left the country.
In theory, he could be detained for as long as criminal proceedings against him, potentially months or even years. His lawyers can request his provisional release at a state court. They can appeal this judgement twice, eventually to a federal court. However, another criteria for house arrest is having a residence and permanent job in Brazil, which does not appear to apply to Mr Hickey.
The Civil Police have 30 days to complete their investigation into the case, though they have already said that Mr Hickey and the others will face charges.
If the case proceeds, the court will hear defence and prosecution witnesses, although Mr Hickey will not necessarily be present for all of this.
Speaking outside Samaritano Hospital in São Paulo late on Wednesday night Willie O’Brien, the OCI man acting as president after Pat Hickey temporarily stepped down, said OCI officials had been granted “restricted access” on their visit to him.
He said Pat Hickey did not discuss the allegations against him adding that OCI could not make any comment while the legal case was going on there.
“We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That’s all I can say at the moment,” he said. When asked whether that meant defending Mr Hickey too, he said: “Exactly, yeah”.
Mark Adams, director of communications for the International Olympic Committee was asked at a press conference yesterday afternoon whether the situation was hurting the IOC.
“Am I embarrassed by a legal system that seems to be working correctly?” he asked. “No, not at all. That is how legal systems work. Let’s look to the future and see what happens. But I am sure when and if he is cleared, you (the media) will report that he was fully cleared and the IOC was exonerated. We will wait for that.”
Here, former minister for sport Bernard Allen has said Sport Ireland, of which he is a member, will review all aspects of the situation following the Rio Olympics. In the 1990s Mr Allen clashed with Pat Hickey, then president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, who was reported to have called him “the Fuhrer”.
Mr Allen set up the Sports Council which Mr Hickey is said to have regarded as an attempt to subsume the OCI.
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