In the space of two days, Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has gone from a luxury Rio hotel with a rooftop pool and panoramic views of a pristine white beach to a notorious prison where water for drinking and cleaning — in which larvae has been visible to the naked eye — is only turned on for a few minutes per day.
Until his arrest, the 71-year-old was a guest of the five-star Windsor Marapendi and his €220-a-night room was paid for by the IOC, in addition to a daily stipend of €800 to cover his expenses.
But since early yesterday, Mr Hickey has instead resided in the Cadeia Pública José Frederico Marques, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious prisons.
Last year a report by public defenders condemned the “totally subhuman conditions” in the jail, with inmates so hungry they resorted to eating wet toilet paper.
After his arrest at the Windsor Marapendi on Wednesday, Mr Hickey spent the night at a hospital after complaining of feeling unwell. On Thursday, he was transferred to a police station to be questioned by detectives.
A judge denied him habeas corpus and he was transferred to the jail, which is part of the huge Bangu prison complex in Rio’s west zone, early yesterday morning.
Dubliner Kevin James Mallon, 36, who was the first person arrested in the ticket touting scandal, is being held in another prison in the same complex.
The Cadeia Pública José Frederico Marques, known as Bangu 10, was over capacity when public defenders visited last year, with 735 prisoners but space for only 532. A prison spokesman said last night there are currently only 396 inmates.
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When the defenders arrived at the jail, they found an inmate with motor paralysis in pain lying on a hard board as he did not have a mattress to sleep on. Defenders later found a room with dozens of new mattresses stored, suggesting corruption.
Water at the jail is only turned on for a few minutes per day for washing and drinking. The larvae in the water could be seen with the naked eye.
“Many prisoners told the defenders that the guards dirtied their drinking water as a kind of punishment,” their report said. When food was available, it was often rotten.
“What is striking is that overcrowding causes all the other problems,” said Roberta Fraenkel, the public defender, of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.
Detective Ricardo Barbosa de Souza, head of the fraud squad at Rio’s Civil Police, said: “Yesterday afternoon [Thursday] Patrick Hickey was discharged from the hospital where he was under medical care since his arrest.
“His lawyers filed an application for habeas corpus, but it was denied by the court.”
A court previously ordered Mr Hickey’s preventative detention. He can appeal to be freed, or to be placed under house arrest. The latter is thought unlikely, though, as it typically requires the suspect to have a permanent residence and job in Brazil.
The Civil Police have 30 days to complete their investigation into the case.
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