Rio police seize passports in raid on Irish Olympics office

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian police on Sunday seized passports from three Irish Olympic officials accused of involvement in black market ticket ring in Rio, police said.

The early morning raid at the Irish office in the Olympic Village also netted phones and computers, Irish officials said.

Irish International Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey has already been detained in the inquiry and is being held in Rio´s Bangu maximum security prison awaiting a court hearing.

On Sunday, agents took the passports of Kevin Kilty, head of the Irish delegation in Rio, Dermot Henihan, secretary general of the Olympic Council of Ireland, and Stephen Martin, police said in a statement.

“During the operation, civil police seized the passports of the three Irishmen, preventing them from leaving the country,” police said. “According to the evidence gathered so far, Kevin, Dermot and Stephen were also involved in the illegal sale of tickets.”

An OCI statement said Rio police also took unused Olympic tickets held by the Irish officials that were meant to be for “athletes´ families and friends.”

“The OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday,” the statement said. The officials “agreed”, it added.

Rio police said they were “conducting investigations since the morning, which will continue until Tuesday.”

Earlier, IOC president Thomas Bach said that Hickey will appear before a Brazilian judge on Tuesday.

The IOC chief gave no other details, but the 71-year-old Hickey could be formally charged or the judge could order him released on bail.

“Mr Hickey will have his first hearing by a judge next Tuesday,” Bach said Sunday on the sidelines of an IOC executive meeting in Rio at the end of the Olympic Games.

Hickey, an IOC member, head of the Olympic Council of Ireland and the European Olympic Committees, was detained Wednesday and is accused of involvement in a ticket scam, ambush marketing and conspiracy over the sale of Rio Olympics tickets at inflated prices.

The ticket case has come as an embarrassment for the IOC. Bach again stressed the “presumption of innocence” in Hickey´s case. He has not criticized or supported the Irish official.

Hickey “temporarily” stood down from his official positions after the arrest so the IOC ethics commission has not yet launched an official investigation.

The scandal has been mounting since the arrest on August 5 of Kevin Mallon, the Irish head of the THG hospitality company.

Police said they seized hundreds of tickets from Mallon, some of which had the Olympic Council of Ireland name on them.

Tickets, including for the Rio opening ceremony, with a face value of about $1,400 dollars were offered for sale at $8,000.

Hickey denied any involvement with THG before his arrest.

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