Brazilian judge approves return of Pat Hickey’s passport

Former OCl president has been detained in country since ticket controversy in August

A judge in Rio de Janeiro has given the go-ahead for former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey to leave Brazil.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

A judge in Rio de Janeiro has given the go-ahead for former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey to leave Brazil. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Pat Hickey is on his way home from Brazil after a court decision in Rio de Janeiro cleared the way for his passport to be returned, almost four and a half months since leaving Ireland to attend the Rio Olympics.

Central to the release of his passport is the condition Mr Hickey agrees “to attend all aspects of the ongoing legal process” with regard to the charges of ticket-touting during the Rio Games, which resulted in his arrest on the morning of August 17th at his five-star hotel in Rio.

He stepped aside from his position as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) once those charges were made, while claiming his innocence and intention on clearing his name.

According to the court decision published in Rio Monday morning, Justice Marcello Rubioli has now ordered Mr Hickey’s passport to be returned to him.

The court order, dated last Wednesday, but only published Monday due to a court holiday late last week, states that Mr Hickey is now free to leave Brazil provided he agrees “to attend all aspects of the ongoing legal process, as requested, and in his absence that he maintain representation to receive intimations of the court”.

Mr Hickey’s legal representative in Brazil, Allan Caetano Ramos, attended the Special Court for Supporters and Large Events to sign the document that orders his passport be returned, that now most likely to happen later Monday.

This completes the lengthy process of Mr Hickey requesting his passport be returned due to health grounds, some two weeks after his bail bond of around €410,000 bail bond was submitted by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

Earlier last month, the court ruled his passport should be returned to him and that he could return to the Republic “to treat a health problem” on condition he pay that bond to the court: the OCI ruled it any intervention, considering it a “personal matter” for Mr Hickey.

As well as being OCI president, Mr Hickey had also served as a vice-president of the ANOC, the official affiliation of the current 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and fully recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He had also stepped aside from that role pending the outcome of the alleged ticket-touting offences.

In a statement confirming payment of the bond, ANOC said “it can confirm that on humanitarian grounds they have agreed to temporarily loan the bail payment for Patrick Hickey to return home for medical reasons.

“The decision was unanimously approved by ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahah Al-Sabah and all ANCOO vice-presidents via a postal vote on 20 November.

“The payment was made as a temporary loan so that (Hickey) could meet his bail requirements and return to Ireland where can receive medical treatment for a heart condition. The terms of the temporary loan make it clear that it must be repaid to ANOC in full. For legal reasons, all other terms and conditions surrounding his bail payment will remain confidential.”

Sheikh Al-Sabah, from Kuwait, considered a good friend of Mr Hickey, was among those to speak out in his favour at last month’s ANOC general assembly in Doha, referring to Mr Hickey as our “dear VP” while the IOC president Mr Thomas Bach, a lawyer himself, also touched on the subject in his keynote address, saying, “we have to say, clearly, that as long as there is no result, our colleague enjoys the presumption of innocence.”

In her deliberation when agreeing to his passport release, Ms Justice Juliana Leal de Melo also noted that Mr Hickey “has no links with Brazil” and that while there was a risk that he may not return to Brazil, although “this needed to be balanced with health concerns”. Should he fail to return to Brazil for the trial, which still has no date, the bail bond would be automatically forfeited.

There has been a suggestion in the meantime that trial proceedings may begin in January, even if Mr Hickey is not in a position to return to Brazil at that time. He is scheduled to undergo a procedure to correct his heart complaint, Atrial Fibrillation, on his return home.

In the same court decision published Monday, Justice Marcello Rubioli said Kevin Mallon, who is facing similar charges to Hickey, may have his passport returned, upon payment of a bond of 750,000 Brazilian Real, (around €209,261), half of the amount originally required by the Brazilian courts.

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