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Rio tickets scandal: IOC's Hickey held in Bangu Prison

Pat Hickey (R) arrives at a police station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 18 August Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pat Hickey complained of heart problems as he was arrested on Wednesday

Senior Olympic official Pat Hickey is being held in a notorious Rio prison following his arrest over alleged illegal sales of tickets for the games.

Mr Hickey, 71, was detained by Brazilian police on Wednesday but was then taken to hospital for tests after he complained of health problems.

After police questioning, Mr Hickey was denied bail by a judge and moved to maximum security Bangu 10 prison.

He denies the claims but has stepped down from all his posts temporarily.

It is understood Mr Hickey is sharing a cell at the prison.

He was head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) as well as the European Olympic body, and also sat on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

On Friday, Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross announced an inquiry into the ticketing claims, following a meeting with Attorney General Máire Whelan.

Image copyright RTE
Image caption Barbed wire on a wall near the hospital at the Bangu penitentiary complex

The inquiry would be chaired by a retired judge who would be appointed next week, said Mr Ross, adding that he hoped it would complete its work in 12 weeks.

Who is Pat Hickey?

Mr Hickey left hospital in a wheelchair on Thursday night and was taken to a police station in Rio where he gave a statement to investigators, reports say.

He was then denied bail by the Court of Justice, and transferred to prison.


Banged up in Bangu

Image copyright Google

Bangu penitentiary complex houses some of Brazil's most dangerous inmates and is famous for its bloody gang violence.

It has been the scene of murders and riots and several of its officials have been killed.

In December 2005, a security chief became the fifth official from the jail to be murdered in five years.

In 2013, 27 inmates escaped from the sprawling complex by crawling through the sewage system.

However, a women's jail in the complex hosts an annual beauty contest.


Meanwhile, Mr Hickey's colleagues at the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) have said they will fully cooperate with any Irish state inquiry into the sale of tickets for Rio 2016.

In a statement on Friday it said Mr Hickey was "receiving his own legal advice and is entitled to natural justice and due process".

It said independent legal advisers had been appointed to advise the council's board.

It added that it "would cooperate fully with a state inquiry and it will now appoint an external independent firm to carry out a review".

The council said its board regretted that "recent events in Brazil have overshadowed the many great performances of Team Ireland at the Rio Olympic Games".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Brazilian police are investigating allegations of a scheme to sell Olympic tickets for more than their face value

The OCI said it would also commission its own independent inquiry into the ticketing scandal.


Who's who in Irish Olympic tickets controversy?

  • Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) - The state-funded body responsible for selecting, training and preparing Irish athletes to take part in the summer and winter Olympics
  • International Olympic Committee (IOC) - The leading organiser of the Olympic games and the highest authority in the Olympic movement
  • Pat Hickey - The president of the Olympic Council of Ireland
  • THG Sports - A corporate and sports hospitality company based in London
  • Pro 10 Management - An Irish sports management company that was appointed by the OCI as its authorised ticket reseller in Ireland
  • Shane Ross - The Irish sports minister

Mr Hickey was dramatically arrested on Wednesday in his hotel room over his alleged role in a scheme to sell Olympic tickets for a higher price than their face value.

Image copyright SNTV
Image caption Pat Hickey was dramatically arrested in his five-star Rio hotel on Wednesday and led away by police in his dressing gown

He was escorted off the premises wearing his dressing gown to face questions.

But he complained of heart problems and spent time in Samaritano Hospital in Rio de Janeiro before being taken to a police station for questioning on Thursday night.

William O'Brien, who has temporarily taken over as president of the OCI, said on Thursday that the organisation would "defend ourselves to the hilt".

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