Pat Hickey released from hospital in Brazil for police questioning

Shane Ross says he will appoint either a lawyer or judge to investigate tickets controversy

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has returned from the Rio Olympics has said he will appoint either a senior counsel or a member of the judiciary to lead an independent investigation into the Rio ticket controversy.

 

Pat Hickey of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) was on Thursday in the process of being released from hospital, and is to be taken to a Rio police station for questioning, according to local sources.

Brazilian police arrested Mr Hickey in a dawn raid on his hotel on Wednesday, in connection with an investigation into the illegal resale of Olympics tickets.

The 71-year-old was admitted to Samaritano hospital for chest pain after his arrest. He was pictured leaving the hospital in a wheelchair.

His release from hospital comes just hours after Minister for Sport Shane Ross arrived back in Dublin, saying he will appoint either a senior counsel or a member of the judiciary to lead an independent investigation into the Rio ticket controversy.

Mr Ross said he believed he would be in a position to announce the details of an inquiry on Friday.

Arriving back into Dublin on Thursday, the Minister said the events had overshadowed the work of Ireland’s Olympians.

The Minister said the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) would have no choice but to co-operate with an independent inquiry.

He said he could not force them but would be surprised if they did not assist the investigation.

“I would be amazed if a body of that sort did not co-operate with the inquiry we have. It would be extraordinary.”

Mr Ross said he had not received any contact from Taoiseach Enda Kenny since the controversy came to light.

He said the last contact he had with Pat Hickey, who has temporary stepped down as president of the OCI, was on Tuesday evening but had no idea what was due to happen in his case.

Asked about legal advice which encouraged Mr Hickey to “put Shane Ross back in his box”, the Minister said it was strange but they would not be the first to express such a view.

Mr Ross flew home from Rio de Janeiro six days ahead of schedule to decide how to respond to the controversy.

He is due to meet Attorney General Máire Whelan and Government officials on Friday to discuss the planned inquiry.

On Thursday, Mr Hickey remained under medical observation in a Rio hospital following his arrest by the police unit investigating alleged ticket touting at the Olympic Games in the city.

At its Thursday press briefing in Rio, the International Olympic Council (IOC) confirmed that Mr Hickey had temporarily stepped down from all of official Olympic roles following his arrest.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said he did not believe IOC president Thomas Bach had been in communication with Mr Hickey, a member of the executive committee, since his arrest.

“I should still point out that as far as we know we haven’t had any details yet of charges and more importantly the presumption of innocence prevails,” said Mr Adams.

“If he wants to voluntarily stand down from his positions that is entirely his prerogative and he has done that.”

Mr Adams declined to offer an opinion on whether the filming of Mr Hickey’s arrest in his hotel was a “stunt” designed to embarrass the IOC. Footage of the seconds which followed Mr Hickey’s arrest circulated widely in the hours afterwards.

“I would let everyone draw their own conclusions on that and I would go back to my previous point that justice and law enforcement is done in different ways in different countries and it is not for us to comment on how it is done here. It is an effective law and justice system and we will leave it as that,” said Mr Adams.

The OCI has rejected the claims of wrongdoing and said it would strongly fight the allegations.

In a statement, it said Mr Hickey would be co-operating and assisting all ongoing inquiries.

Irish man Kevin Mallon, a director of UK sports hospitality company THG, and a translator were arrested earlier this month in Rio and about 800 tickets seized, some of which came from the OCI’s allocation.