Olympics chief Pat Hickey is released from Rio prison

Patrick Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland
Patrick Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland

A high-ranking Irish Olympics official arrested over a ticket sales probe said his lawyers are working to have charges against him dropped after he was released from prison in Rio.

Pat Hickey walked out of the high-security Bangu Prison and was driven away in a waiting car today, a day after a Brazilian judge ordered his release.

He must remain in Brazil and hand over his passport.

“I have been released from the police detention system,” he confirmed in a statement.

“I will now stay in Rio and my lawyers will proceed to have the charges laid against me set aside as there is no substantive proof of any wrongdoing on my part.”

Mr Hickey added: “I would like to thank the prison authorities for their kindness they have shown to me.

“Due to my medical condition, I will be making no further statements.”

Mr Hickey, 71, was being held in the jail since August 19 after being arrested at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area of Rio.

Police there said he was formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law, but is a preliminary step in that direction.

He has always denied any wrongdoing.

His family last week said he had a serious heart condition and urged the Irish government to intervene over his “degrading and humiliating” ordeal.

Mr Hickey has stepped aside from his role as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) while the investigation is ongoing.

Earlier this month the OCI said he also decided to “step aside temporarily” as an International Olympic Committee member and from all his other Olympic positions “until this matter is fully resolved”.

Mr Hickey is also head of the European Olympic Committees and vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

At the weekend, a sports hospitality boss also arrested in connection with the affair was also released from Bangu Prison.

Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, was freed on bail, having been detained since August 5 on charges of mis-selling Olympics tickets.