Rio prison Pat Hickey in described last year as ‘subhuman’

Conditions in Bangu 10 jail, where OCI chief who stepped aside is held, ‘ have improved’

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Hickey arriving at the police station after being arrested on allegations of taking part in a black market ticket ring. Photograph: Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Hickey arriving at the police station after being arrested on allegations of taking part in a black market ticket ring. Photograph: Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images

 

The prison to which Pat Hickey has been transferred, the José Frederico Marques public jail, is Rio de Janeiro’s main remand centre for male prisoners.

It comprises 25 separate units, which include medical, psychiatric and maternity facilities, that together make up the extensive Gericinó Prison Complex, the biggest in Brazil.

It is in the distant, dusty suburb of Bangu, notorious for being Rio’s hottest district on account of being cut off by a low sierra from the cooling breeze of the ocean.

It was here in 1987 that the state’s government decided to build a modern prison to try to break the tightening grip of organised crime on the jail population.

Some of Rio’s most notorious drug traffickers, whose heavily armed foot soldiers control many of the city’s favelas, are housed in the complex in the country’s first maximum security unit, known as Bangu 1.

Executed

Its reputation was sealed by a televised rebellion in 2002 when leaders of Rio’s main criminal gang, the Red Command, invaded the wing of the rival Third Command faction and executed four of its leaders.

The José Frederico Marques unit, known colloquially as Bangu 10, where Mr Hickey was taken after he was released from hospital on Thursday afternoon and processed through the system, is noted for its poor conditions.

The unit was built with a maximum capacity of 532 but its population in the past has risen above 700 inmates. In a report last year’s, Rio’s public defenders’ office described conditions inside as “totally subhuman”.

Poor hygiene

It cited overcrowding, a lack of food, poor hygiene and beatings by guards in its report on a visit to the unit. Since then conditions have improved with the authorities saying they have tackled the problems highlighted. Currently Bangu 10 accommodates only 396 inmates.

Rio’s state penitentiary administration said Mr Hickey would share a cell with one other prisoner.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, whose arrest for alleged ticket touting on August 5th set off the chain of events that led to Mr Hickey’s arrest, is in the same unit.

He was visited this week by a member of his legal team who said Mr Mallon was in good health and spirits after almost two weeks in prison. He said Mr Mallon had not suffered any violence or threats from his fellow inmates.

Judging by the length of time Mr Mallon has been held, it appears Mr Hickey could be in Bangu 10 for some time if his lawyers are not able to secure his release before a judge rules on the accusations made against him.