Jailed Irish pair seek release as ticket-touting scandal enters its third week

Both Irishmen being held in prison in Rio de Janeiro will petition the courts to be released as the Olympic touting scandal enters its third week.
Jailed Irish pair seek release as ticket-touting scandal enters its third week

Lawyers for Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) boss Patrick Hickey, 71, and Kevin James Mallon, 36, an executive of ticketing firm THG Sports, will request they be able to “respond at liberty’ to the criminal charges they are facing.

Franklin Gomes, a Sao Paulo-based lawyer for Mr Mallon, said: “We are putting all our efforts into getting him released from prison immediately.”

His law firm was petitioning a special Olympic court in Rio, plus the Superior Court of Justice and the Supreme Court, both in Brasilia, he said.

“I hope to see movement in this case by Wednesday,” he said. “The crimes of which he is accused are very low level, they are not serious. Normally the result is a fine.”

Mr Hickey had a habeas corpus plea rejected by a judge last week, said police.

He will try again this week to be freed, said Thomas Bach, of the International Olympic Committee. The judiciary in Rio could not confirm if a case was scheduled and Mr Hickey’s Rio-based lawyer did not respond to a request to comment.

The pair faces charges of facilitating touting, which carries a prison 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.

They are accused of allowing Olympic tickets to be diverted from the OCI, via its official reseller Pro10 Sports Management, to THG Sports, that allegedly touted them in Brazil for up to €7,000 each — 18 times their face value.

Judge Leticia D’Aiuto de Moraes Ferreira also issued an order for the confiscation of the passports of OCI vice-president John Delaney, acting president William O’Brien, and Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty, Linda O’Reilly, and Stephen Martin.

“They have Irish nationality and could return to their country of origin as soon as the 2016 Olympics end, which would seriously undermine the ongoing investigations and could prejudice the application of criminal law,” said the judge.

Mr Hickey is said to have told police in an interview last week that the decision to work with THG Sports was a joint one of the OCI board.

As well as Mr Hickey and his colleagues, those arrested or sought include other directors of THG Sports — British owner Marcus Evans, 52; Irishman David Patrick Gilmour, 35; Brit Martin Studd, 49; and Dutchman Martin van Os, 45 — and three directors of Pro10, which police believe was set up especially to divert tickets to THG — Brit Michael Glynn and Irishmen Ken Murray and Eamonn Collins.

Police are expected to hold a press conference today on the latest developments in the case.

Mr Hickey, arrested in a dawn raid on his hotel on August 17, and Mr Mallon, the first arrested on August 5, are sharing a cell in the Bangu prison complex on the outskirts of Rio.

Lawyers for the pair have several options in seeking their release. They could request house arrest, which would require the suspect to wear an electronic tag, but that would require them to be “extremely debilitated by serious illness” and to have a permanent address in Brazil to stay.

In theory they could be detained for as long as criminal proceedings continue, potentially months or even years.

The Civil Police have 30 days to complete their investigation into the case, though they have already said Mr Hickey and the others will face charges.

Meanwhile, officials in the Department of Transport were in “constant contact” yesterday with the attorney general’s office to decide the terms of reference for the Inquiry.

The Government has decided to accept opposition input into the terms of reference, which means it will be tomorrow before Sports Minister Shane Ross announces the former judge who will lead the inquiry.

One Government source described the decision to include the opposition as simple “window dressing”.

Sources have said the levels of co-operation from the OCI since Friday has been “excellent”. “They want this cleared up quickly and they have agreed to fully co-operate with us,” said the source.

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