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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C

Pat Hickey being held in one of Brazil's most notorious prisons

The Olympic Council of Ireland will meet this weekend for the first time to discuss Rio ticket scandal

Updated 14.50

PAT HICKEY REMAINS behind bars at one of Brazil’s maximum security prisons in Rio de Janeiro this weekend.

It’s reported the former Olympic Council of Ireland president, who has temporarily stepped aside, might be held in the notorious prison until Tuesday due to the courts being closed.

Hickey is being held in José Frederico Marques Public jail, at Gericinó Penitentiary Complex, colloquially known as Bangu 10.

Brazil Prison Soccer AP / Press Association Images Brazil Prison SoccerInmates in Bangu penitentiary fight for the ball during the championship of peace final soccer game in Rio de Janeiro. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Many of Brazil’s most dangerous prisoners are held at Bangu prison, however, it is believed the most dangerous are kept away from the general prisoner population.

In 2003, prisoners went on hunger strike demanding investigations into accusations of physical abuse by guards, as well as better conditions for visiting family members.

The administration clamped down with even tighter controls after prisoners serving time for drug trafficking organised mutinies and criminal activities in the city with the help of accomplices outside prison.

Brazil Prison Soccer AP / Press Association Images Inmates in Bangu penitentiary fight for the ball during the championship of peace final soccer game in Rio de Janeiro. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In 2004, the country’s most wanted drug kingpin, Antonio Bonfim Lopes – also known as “Nem” – was transferred to the prison upon his arrest.


Hickey’s lawyers asked for him to be freed while the investigation goes on but judges refused the request, denying him bail.

Bangu is notorious for violence and prison riots, with Brazilian prisons in general often criticised by human rights groups for overcrowding and abuses.

Amnesty International has criticised the “severe overcrowding, degrading conditions, torture and violence remained endemic in prisons” in Brazil.

It stated that prisoner revolts were common as were the murder of some inmates.

The Chicago Tribune reported about the overcrowding issues in the prison over ten years ago, but stated that it was not as bad as other penitentiaries in the country.

The prison director told the newspaper that all inmates are treated equally.

Brazil Prison Nursery AP / Press Association Images Tatiana Ribeiro holds her newborn as she shows the names of her other two sons tattooed on her arms, inside the nursery at the Bangu Penitentiary Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ribeiro was arrested for drug trafficking. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The prison also holds women inmates. The prison allows inmates’ babies to live with them at the nursery for six months.

Olympic Council of Ireland board meeting 

While Hickey awaits for the judicial process to begin, the Olympic Council of Ireland are meeting this weekend for the first time to discuss the extraordinary revelations of the past week.

In a statement, the council said the board had not had an opportunity to meet in person to discuss the events in Rio due to the ongoing games.

The OCI stressed that it is taking the recent events in Rio “very seriously”.

However, it said the board regrets that recent events in Brazil have overshadowed the “many great performances of Team Ireland at the Rio Olympic Games”.

Successful sporting achievements

With 11 top 10 finishes, it has been one of the most successful performances at an Olympic Games by an Irish team, said the board.

It added that its top priority is support for current Irish athletes and teams at the Olympics, adding:

The Board has no further comment on the charges against Mr Hickey who is receiving his own legal advice and is entitled to natural justice and due process.

The OCI statement also said that it had appointed Arthur Cox, one of Dublin’s ‘big five’ law firms, to advise them.

They added:

As referenced in a statement earlier the Board will co-operate fully with a State inquiry and it will now appoint an external independent firm to carry out a review.

The scandal began a fortnight ago when an Irishman, Kevin James Mallon, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro for allegedly touting Olympic Games tickets at exorbitant prices.

The tickets were registered to the OCI.

19/08/2016 Olympic tickets scandal. Pictured are M Sam Boal Pictured yesterday, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O'Donovan. Sam Boal

Inquiry to be established 

Yesterday, Sports Minister Shane Ross and Junior Minister Patrick O’Donovan announced the establishment of an independent inquiry into the Rio ticket scandal.

Hickey has temporarily stepped back as OCI president – a role he has held since 1988. The father of four remains in a Bangu Prison in Rio this weekend.


The fallout from the controversy is set to continue, with political figures weighing in on further action. Fine Gael’s Noel Rock, who has been vocal on the issue all week, said the matter has been a “dark day in Irish sport”.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Brendan Howlin said this week that the Sports Council, which provides funding to the OCI, should take ownership of the situation.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on sports, Imelda Munster, said Hickey should be called before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Ross said a retired judge will now be appointed to head up the inquiry into the scandal and the terms of reference will be decided in due course.

Additional reporting AFP and Associated Press.

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Read: Olympic Council of Ireland says Pat Hickey is entitled to “natural justice” as Ross announces inquiry>

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