By Ossian Shine
LONDON (Reuters) – Former head of the European Olympic Committee Patrick Hickey will fight “each and every one” of charges that he took part in a ring to sell tickets illegally for the Rio Games, the Irishman said on Monday.
Hickey, who was also the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), was released from Rio’s Bangu 10 maximum security prison last month, but must remain in Brazil until the case is heard.
“For clarity, I am not under house arrest as, like with so many things with this case, has been misreported by the media,” Hickey said in a statement on Monday.
“I intend to face all the charges and to fight each and every one of them.
“I am completely innocent of all such charges and I will also vigorously defend my good name and character that I have spent my lifetime building through voluntary service for numerous sporting bodies.”
Hickey was arrested on Aug. 10 at a luxury beachfront hotel during the Games. His arrest was in connection with an investigation into an illegal ticket-scalping ring.
Police accuse Hickey of operating the ring with Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management to funnel tickets intended for use by the Irish committee, and not authorized for resale, to international sports hospitality company THG Sports.
All involved deny wrongdoing.
A Rio de Janeiro court on Friday accepted prosecutors’ charges against Hickey, Kevin Mallon, a director of THG, and nine others.
Martin Burke, the Irish council’s sports director, four other THG officials and three from Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management, Ireland’s official Olympic Games ticket reseller, were also indicted in the court document.
Except for Hickey and Mallon, all are outside the country and are now considered fugitives.
Authorities told Reuters last week that they believe the ring had operated for around eight years and was preparing for other Olympic events such as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
The ring appears to have operated similar scams at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Games, Rio police investigators said.
(Editing by Gareth Jones)