Rio police deny Pat Hickey’s allegations over arrest footage

Ex-OCI boss claims Brazilian media paid officers to allow filming of his detention

Police in Rio de Janeiro have denied Pat Hickey’s claim they were paid by local media to allow the filming of his arrest during the Olympic Games in the city last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Police in Rio de Janeiro have denied Pat Hickey’s claim they were paid by local media to allow the filming of his arrest during the Olympic Games in the city last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Police in Rio de Janeiro have denied Pat Hickey’s claim that they were paid by local media to allow the filming of his arrest during the Olympic Games in the city last year.

The former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) made the allegation in a radio interview broadcast last week.

“The media were at the door. The media paid the police for access to this situation. This is a regular occurrence in Brazil. My lawyers in Brazil confirmed this to me. It happens all the time,” Mr Hickey told Newstalk.

However, the detective who oversaw the investigation into alleged ticket-touting by Mr Hickey and the British sports hospitality company THG that led to the arrest rejected the claim.

“This is an injustice against the work of the detectives involved,” said Ronaldo de Oliviera. “There is absolutely no evidence for this allegation. The detectives would never involve themselves in something like this.”

Contacted by The Irish Times, Mr Hickey’s lawyers in Rio denied they had told their client that police had accepted payment to allow the media access to his arrest.

“We never discussed this subject with him,” said his lawyer Allan Caetano Ramos.

State of undress

Footage of Mr Hickey answering a hotel room door in a state of undress during his arrest at the Windsor Marapendi hotel was quickly released by media.

Asked how the footage was obtained by media, Mr Oliveira said media access to police operations in Rio is “quite liberal”.

“Media hang around police bases waiting for us to go out on operations. They follow us on their own initiative,” he said.

As the hotel housing delegates of the International Olympic Committee, the Windsor Marapendi had a substantial media presence during the Rio Games.

Mr Hickey’s Rio lawyer also said he was unaware of any Brazilian supreme court judge labelling Mr Hickey’s arrest a “disgrace”, as the former OCI chief said in his radio interview.

Mr Hickey was granted habeas corpus by Rio state appeals court judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida.

In granting habeas corpus on the condition Mr Hickey surrender his passport, the judge said that as none of the crimes he is accused of have a maximum sentence of more than four years, “it is not evidently plausible to maintain him in prison”.

‘Common’

Speaking to The Irish Times, Judge Almeida said he never classified Mr Hickey’s arrest as a disgrace and described the detention of a suspect under a “preventative prison” order by a lower court followed by the granting of habeas corpus by a higher court as “common” in Brazil.

Mr Hickey was allowed to return to Ireland in December after the Association of World National Olympic Committees loaned him 1.5 million reais (€410,000) to meet the bail required for him to leave Brazil.

His case continues to work its way through a court in Rio