Pat Hickey sharing Rio prison cell with Kevin Mallon
IOC president Thomas Bach says presumption of innocence must prevail
Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon are being held at a remand unit of the Gericiná prison complex, known as Bangú 10Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
The two Irishmen are being held together at a remand unit of the Gericiná prison complex, known as Bangú 10, in the west of the city, Rio’s penitentiary administration confirmed on Saturday.
The Dublin finance director of British company THG, Mr Mallon was arrested in the city on August 5th in possession of 823 Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) tickets.
Mr Hickey was taken to the jail in the early hours of Friday morning following his release on Thursday afternoon from the hospital where he had been under medical observation after feeling unwell during his arrest Wednesday morning.
Police claim both men were part of a scheme that saw OCI tickets passed to THG via the OCI’s official ticket vendor Pro10, in order to circumvent the rejection by Rio’s organisers of THG’s application to be the OCI’s vendor.
Both Mr Hickey, Pro10 and THG have denied any wrongdoing.
Authorities also confirmed that 71-year-old Mr Hickey had his hair shaved on arrival. “The prisoner had his hair cut at the prison unit according to established procedures,” a spokesperson for the penitentiary administration said.
Mr Hickey was declared a flight risk by the judge who issued the arrest warrants for Mr Hickey and three directors at Pro10. Judge Mariana Tavares Shu wrote that “it seems predictable that, should they remain at liberty” they will seek to flee the jurisdiction.
She cited as justification the case of the former chief executive of THG Sports James Sinton. Brazilian authorities say Mr Sinton fled the country during the World Cup while being investigated over selling unauthorised hospitality packages for the tournament.
But THG have described the police version of events as “false”. “He [Mr Sinton] voluntarily made a statement to the police in relation to an investigation they were conducting around the World Cup in Brazil. No action was taken against him,” said a company statement released on August 11th.
“What we know is that he has not been heard by a judge yet and, more so, the presumption of innocence prevails,” Mr Bach told a news conference during the closing weekend of the Rio Games.
“We respect the laws and legal procedures here in Brazil and cannot comment further on this,” he said.
Mr Hickey temporarily stepped aside as an IOC executive board member, head of the European Olympic Committee and the OCI after his arrest.
Mr Bach said there would be no disciplinary commission to investigate Mr Hickey because the 71-year-old had temporarily stepped down from his IOC positions as well.
The IOC’s commission “is actually in contact with the authorities in Brazil. At this time there is no reason for any action, given that Mr Hickey has suspended himself from any (IOC) activities,” the German, who has headed the IOC since 2013, said.
“It took note of this self-suspension and will follow up the case according to the developments.”
Mr Hickey was part of the IOC’s powerful board and a long-time IOC member but Mr Bach offered little in terms of information regarding specific support for a once high-profile colleague.
Asked whether there was any support for Mr Hickey from the IOC at the moment, Mr Bach repeated that he should be presumed innocent.
Mr Hickey was arrested in a dawn raid on his hotel on Wednesday. He was admitted to Samaritano hospital for chest pains after his arrest but released the next day into custody.
He is still listed as an IOC member on the website of the organisation but with two asterisks next to his name denoting self-suspension.
Additional reporting: Reuters