Lawyers for jailed former Irish IOC exec seek release this week
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Lawyers for Patrick Hickey, the top European official of the International Olympic Committee until his arrest this month on accusations of illegal ticket sales, said on Monday they hope to secure at least a temporary release from prison for him this week.
The 71-year-old Irishman, who was also head of the Olympic Council of Ireland before his detention, has been in police custody since Aug. 10 and is detained in a maximum security prison in Rio de Janeiro pending further hearings in the case.
After filing a writ of habeas corpus last week, seeking proof of any wrongdoing in order to justify his continued detention, Hickey's Brazilian law firm argued it expects this week to receive a favorable response.
"Despite the accusations, there is no evidence that proves Hickey's involvement in such a scheme," said Helton Márcio Pinto, a partner at Arthur Lavigne Advogados Associados, the Rio law firm that is defending Hickey.
The scheme, according to Rio police, allegedly involved the funneling of Olympic tickets intended for use by the Irish committee and not authorized for resale to THG Sports, an international sports hospitality company.
Hickey temporarily stepped aside from his Olympic positions during the investigation, following his detention in his beach front hotel in Rio this month during the Olympic Games.
On Saturday, a court authorized the release of Kevin James Mallon, another Irishman and THG director who was arrested days before Hickey and was being held in the same prison. He left custody late on Saturday but is not allowed to leave Brazil, his lawyer told Reuters.
It was not clear whether the court will rule on Hickey's petition in the timeframe suggested by his attorneys. Pinto said Hickey's age and a history of health problems should weigh in his favor.
Police have said they have ample evidence of crimes committed by both men and other suspects in the case, but a full investigation and further court proceedings to determine their guilt or innocence could take months.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Paulo Prada; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Meredith Mazzilli)