Pat Hickey court case into Rio ticket touting allegations suspended

Mr Hickey and Kevin Mallon were due to appear on November 29th

Pat Hickey court case into Rio ticket touting allegations suspended

Pat Hickey. Photo: RollingNews.ie

The Brazilian court case in which Pat Hickey was expected to testify at the end of November has been suspended.

The Supreme Court in Brasília confirmed Friday that an injunction to suspend the case, already granted to THG executive Kevin Mallon, extends to all others listed in the case - namely former OCI President Pat Hickey and Barbara Carnieri, who was arrested alongside Mr Mallon in a hotel in the suburbs of Rio on the eve of last year's Olympic Games.

Both Mr Hickey and Mr Mallon were due to appear at a local court in Rio de Janeiro on the afternoon of November 29th, in what is known locally as a 'Conciliation, Instruction and Judgement' audience, in which the judge would hear witnesses for the prosecution and defence.

Thirteen witnesses were listed for the prosecution, and it is thought that it would take a couple of weeks to hear all testimony.

Following this, legal teams would have further opportunity to submit further written defence, based on what was heard.

It was expected that the final judgement would not be heard until February 2018, after the judge had analysed all evidence.

Brazil's Supreme Court in Brasília | Image via @STF_oficial on Twitter

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court confirmed "the decision to suspend the case with respect to Kevin Mallon extends to all of the accused in this process."

The case will remain suspended until the judge in capital city Brasília analyses the Habeas Corpus claim.

While clarity could not be given on how long this might take, it is thought that a decision should not drag out in the courts for long, as in Brazil criminal cases tend to be processed more quickly than civil matters.

Supreme Court judge Ribeiro Dantas stated in his October 26th judgement, published on the courts website on November 6th, that the "concession of Habeas Corpus constitutes an exceptional measure, since it can only be granted when it is proven, in a clear and indisputable fashion, the illegality of the disputed judicial act."

Granting the requested injunction, Mr Dantas stated that he verified "the fulfillment of the necessary requisites for the concession of the injunction sought, since, even with a perfunctory analysis, there are sufficient indications of the configuration of the alleged duress."
This particular Habeas Corpus claim listed the Public Prosecutor of the State of Rio de Janeiro as the defendant.

Minister Dantas formally requested that the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice, and the Rio Special Court for Supporters and Large Events "provide the information that they understand to be necessary - preferably by electronic means - and the passwords for access to the respective virtual files." He ordered that the case files be then sent to the Federal Public Prosecutor.

Just two weeks previously, the same Supreme Court judge denied a separate Habeas Corpus claim, also brought by Mr Mallon's legal team; this time with the State of Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice listed as the defendant.

In his October 13th decision, Mr Dantas said: "I do not verify the occurrence of flagrant illegality in the contested decision (to accept charges against Mr Mallon), that would justify the processing of the present order."

File photo

Mr Gomes lodged an appeal against this decision on October 25th, and withdrew it two days later, once he became aware of the October 26th decision.

Mr Dantas is the same Supreme Court judge who ordered the release of Mr Mallon from Bangu Prison on August 28th last year, reversing his denial of a Habeas Corpus claim made by Mr Gomes on August 15th.

Two days later, Pat Hickey was released from jail by local judge Fernando Antonio de Almeida.

Both Irish men paid financial bonds to the courts, in exchange for the return of their passports, which would be reneged in the event that either did not appear in court when requested to do so.

In the case of Mr Hickey, a bond of R$1.5million (€410,000) was paid, while half that amount was paid separately to guarantee the continued engagement of Kevin Mallon in the ongoing process, and in exchange for the return of his passport last December.

Mr Gomes has been tireless in his attempts to have the criminal case thrown out of court in Brazil.

He has lodged repeated Habeas Corpus claims and appeals, both at the level of the local court, and also to the Supreme Court in Brasília, which supersedes the Rio forum. He claims a "lack of just cause" in accusations weighted against his client, and complains of "illegal duress".

The solicitor maintains that legal process has not been followed adequately, stating that the Rio court had not responded to procedural questions, nor had it dealt with any of his written submissions in defense of his client.

Requests to shelve the case have repeatedly been denied in Rio, twice the local judge, Mr Almeida said that Habeas Corpus was not the correct instrument to use in this case, with a third denied as the judge stated that the request needed further analysis, requesting the public prosecutor to furnish follow-up material.

While Mr Hickey’s legal team had suggested that their client would participate in the November 29th hearing by video conference, a formal request to use such facilities is not thought to have been lodged with the local courts.

Both men protest their innocence.

The Supreme Court in Brazil granted an injunction on Thursday to suspend the court hearing in which Kevin Mallon was due to give evidence.

Reporting from Sarah O'Sullivan in Rio de Janeiro