Pat Hickey, who has temporarily stepped aside as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, has been told not to leave Brazil until police conclude their investigations of the multimillion-euro ticket-touting claims — which could take a number of months.
Mr Hickey was told of the clear restrictions on his travel as he was formally released from the notorious Bangu 10 jail in Rio de Janeiro yesterday afternoon.
Mr Hickey was arrested on August 17 at his luxury hotel as it emerged many of the 823 tickets found in the possession of 36-year-old Dubliner and THG director Kevin James Mallon when he was arrested on August 5 came from the Olympic Council of Ireland.
After a fortnight of drama surrounding his alleged involvement in a complex ticket-touting controversy, Mr Hickey was yesterday released from prison.
However, he has been told not to leave Brazil under any circumstances while investigations continue, which is likely to take a number of months.
“I do not see that his freedom will present any risk to public order, criminal investigation or, if appropriate, the future application of criminal law,” said state judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida in the ruling yesterday, adding that the 71-year-old will have to surrender his passport and cannot leave Brazil but is otherwise free to live in an apartment in the city without restrictions.
Police have 30 days to conclude their investigation and then prosecutors have 15 days to decide whether to pursue charges.
The judge accepted the request of Mr Hickey’s lawyers who went to an appeal court in Rio de Janeiro after initially being denied habeas corpus.
He justified Mr Hickey’s release by saying none of the three offences of which he is accused — facilitating touting; forming a criminal cartel; and illicit marketing — have a term of more than four years, meaning he would not serve them in a high-security jail anyway.
It is unclear if Mr Hickey, who stood aside from all his Olympic responsibilities when he was arrested, will return to his duties while he answers the charges against him.
In a statement, the executive committee of the European Olympic Committees said: “The EOC welcomes the news that Patrick Hickey has been released from preventative custody in Bangu maximum-security prison.
“We believe this was the correct decision as it respects the dignity and fundamental human rights of Mr. Hickey. The EOC respectfully requests that these rights continue to be respected, including the principle of proportionality when under criminal investigation and Mr Hickey’s presumption of innocence.”
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