The Dublin lawyer for Pat Hickey has claimed the ticket touting allegations against her client should be put in perspective because “it isn’t murder”.
Anne Marie James, of Kirwan McKeown James solicitors, made the remark as she again called on Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan to meet with the Brazilian ambassador concerning his detention in Rio.
Speaking before a meeting with the Fine Gael cabinet member in the next 72 hours, Ms James said Mr Hickey’s family are “terrified” about a public backlash against them due to the Rio scandal.
However, despite the fact her client has been accused of being at the centre of a multi-million euro ticket touting scam dating back at least a decade and which Brazilian police believe needs to be examined for “money laundering”, the solicitor argued people need perspective on the events.
“This could be any of us. We could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you’re picked up. And putting it in perspective, this is a ticket touting allegation, that’s all it is. It isn’t murder,” Ms James told Newstalk radio.
The privately paid for solicitor repeated previous comments during the latest in a series of radio interviews to say the Hickey family is “very private” and that they have suffered because “they had cars outside their houses” since the veteran Olympic Council of Ireland president was arrested a fortnight ago.
To underline her point, she said on one occasion “one of them had to leave a shopping centre with her children in hand because they walked straight bang into pictures of their grandfather on the paper”, adding the situation is “unacceptable”.
“Where is the level of hatred coming from? Part of it, I think, is Ireland has been rocked by so much controversy and we’ve all suffered so dreadfully coming through the recession.
“Now we have a lot of terrorism going on, people are afraid to travel... that’s the only thing I can... most of the public don’t know this man,” she said.
Since late last week, the Hickey family have said through solicitors Kirwan McKeown James that Mr Hickey is being unfairly treated in Brazil.
While they have sought Irish Government help to secure his release and are due to meet Charlie Flanagan in the next 72 hours to discuss the issue further, their calls for intervention are expected to be left unanswered.
In a statement on Friday evening, Mr Flanagan said while he would meet with the family and their solicitor “in the coming days” the reality is he cannot “provide legal advice or intervene in any way in the judicial process in another country” and that Mr Hickey is one of 1,500 foreign cases.
Similarly, a spokesperson for Taoiseach Enda Kenny declined to comment on similar calls for a meeting with him, only saying the Taoiseach “notes” the fact Mr Flanagan is meeting the family.
Mr Hickey was arrested by Brazilian police a fortnight ago in relation to alleged involvement in a multi-million euro international ticket touting scam authorities have claimed also needs to be examined for “money laundering”.
Mr Hickey denies the claims.
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