Pat Hickey did not seek to evade Brazilian police, lawyers say

Officials who arrested OCI president said wife told them he was gone to Ireland

Lawyers for Pat Hickey, who has stepped aside temporarily as Olympic Council of Ireland president, have denied that he attempted to evade arrest by Brazilian police. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Lawyers for Pat Hickey, who has stepped aside temporarily as Olympic Council of Ireland president, have denied that he attempted to evade arrest by Brazilian police. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Lawyers for Pat Hickey, who has stepped aside temporarily as Olympic Council of Ireland president, have denied that he attempted to evade arrest by Brazilian police.

Authorities in Brazil accused Mr Hickey of trying to hide when they went to arrest him over his alleged role in the Olympic ticket touting controversy early last Wednesday at Rio’s Hotel Windsor Marapendi hotel.

They said his wife answered the hotel room door when they knocked and told them her husband was on his way back to Ireland. However, police said Mr Hickey’s passport, clothing and other items were found in the room.

He was found in a neighbouring room and his arrest was filmed by television crews, a development which the OCI honorary general secretary Dermot Sherlock on Sunday described as a “disgrace”.

Mr Hickey is accused of intending to supply tickets for ticket touting, diverting tickets from legitimate use and false marketing. He and the OCI have denied any impropriety in the ticket controversy.

In a statement to RTÉ and the BBC, Mr Hickey’s lawyer said: “Mr Hickey did not try to escape as informed by police.

“He was sleeping already for two days in one of the three rooms that were allocated to him and his family, due to insomnia, and he did not want to disturb his wife.”

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‘Ridiculous’

The lawyer said claims he tried to escape were “ridiculous” and said his wife had merely “panicked” when faced with Brazilian police.

President of the OCI since 1989 and a member of the powerful executive committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Hickey’s decision to stand down was announced by the OCI at after his arrest.

The OCI has confirmed that officials Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin, who had their passports seized by the Brazilian authorities, have agreed to go to a police station in Rio for questioning.

A police statement released on Sunday said investigators saw indications they “were also involved in the illegal sale of tickets”.

The warrant also authorised police to seize the passports of acting OCI president William O’Brien, OCI official Linda O’Reilly and OCI vice-president John Delaney, the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland.

After searches of two locations being used by the OCI delegation at the Olympics, mobile phones, computers and a significant quantity of tickets were also taken in the search. The OCI said in a statement they were “an allocation of unused official tickets in their offices which had been made available for athletes’ families and friends”.

Tickets

A number of relatives of athletes have claimed they were unable to access tickets through the OCI’s authorised seller Pro10 with one woman saying she had to buy her tickets for the opening ceremony from a Norwegian website.

It remains unclear when Mr Hickey will face a judge following his arrest.

On Sunday, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said he would come before one on Tuesday. But a spokesperson for Rio’s justice system said as yet no date has been set for a court appearance by Mr Hickey.

A judge could decide to throw out the police case against him, or accepting it, decide to release him from prison while the investigation continues.

The Government inquiry into the Olympics ticket controversy will investigate the distribution of tickets in 2012 and 2016, as well as corporate governance at the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).

Draft terms of reference prepared by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Attorney General were circulated between officials on Monday.

The scope of the non-statutory investigation will be wider than the investigation being carried out by the Brazilian police. It will focus on the 2012 Games in London and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro but the draft terms will allow for the inquiry chairman to expand that if necessary.