IGIHE.com \BB Sports
Police stop two US Olympic swimmers from leaving Brazil
Published on 18-08-2016 - at 03:59' by Al Jazeera

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger hauled off flight after doubts raised about a claim they were robbed at gunpoint.

Brazilian police pulled two US Olympic swimmers off a plane about to leave the country to question them about a claim they made to have been victims of an armed mugging, according to US officials.

"We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities," Patrick Sandusky, spokesman for the US Olympic Committee, said on Wednesday.

Conger and Bentz were with star US swimmer Ryan Lochte and another squad member, James Feigen, when they said they were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. Lochte is believed to be already in the United States, having left before Brazilian authorities ordered the swimmers be questioned.

It was not yet clear if Feigen was still in Brazil or in the United States.

Both Conger and Bentz were released from police custody early on Thursday after questioning, but their lawyer said they were not allowed to leave the country until an investigation was completed.

Brazilian police pulled two US Olympic swimmers off a plane about to leave the country to question them about a claim they made to have been victims of an armed mugging, according to US officials.

"We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities," Patrick Sandusky, spokesman for the US Olympic Committee, said on Wednesday.

Conger and Bentz were with star US swimmer Ryan Lochte and another squad member, James Feigen, when they said they were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. Lochte is believed to be already in the United States, having left before Brazilian authorities ordered the swimmers be questioned.

It was not yet clear if Feigen was still in Brazil or in the United States.

Both Conger and Bentz were released from police custody early on Thursday after questioning, but their lawyer said they were not allowed to leave the country until an investigation was completed.

’Robbed at gunpoint’

"These four Olympic swimmers left a party on early Sunday," said Elizondo. "They were on their way back to the Olympic Village in a taxi ... they all say that they were robbed at gunpoint on the side of the road."

"They claim that perhaps the people robbed them at gunpoint were wearing police uniforms. A very, very serious claim by these four athletes."

At first, the International Olympic Committee denied that anything had happened.

Lochte, though, gave interviews in which he described the incident in detail and Brazilian Olympic authorities were eventually forced to issue a public apology for the security slip-up.

But, early on Wednesday a Brazilian judge ordered an investigation saying their story was "full of inconsistencies".

Judge Keyla Blank "issued warrants for searches and the seizure of the passports for the US swimmers," a statement from her office said.

"With this, they are banned from leaving the country."

Blank’s office said the judge was investigating possible inconsistencies in the swimmers stories including different accounts of how many muggers there were. Olympic officials said police were still looking for key witnesses, including the driver of the taxi the swimmers said they were in.

’Touched a nerve’

The judge also referenced footage caught on security cameras after the alleged robbery.

"It’s noticeable that the victims arrived back physically and mentally unshaken, even joking with each other," the judge said.

"In the last 48 hours some video came to light. It shows these athletes arriving in the village after the alleged robbery took place," said Elizondo. "They seem to have their cell phones, wallets. They seem to be joking with each other. That resulted in people asking if a robbery really took place or not."

The video in question, posted on the website of Britain’s Daily Mail, shows the four swimmers passing through an X-ray machine in the early hours of Sunday. The clip shows nothing out of the ordinary.

With some 85,000 police and soldiers guarding the Olympics - twice the number used in London - the apparently high-profile crime touched a nerve in Rio.

In addition to multiple incidents of thefts from Olympic athletes or media, a Portuguese government minister was recently mugged in the swish Leblon district.

JPEG - 31.2 kb
Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities

Kwamamaza
Comments

YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

RULES AND REGULATIONS:
Do not post comments that are defamatory, divisive and blasphemous.
If you wish to receive a quick response to your opinion/comments, please provide your email address in the space provided.
Your comments will appear after moderation from IGIHE.com.
In case the above regulations are not observed, your comments might not appear or will be deleted. Thank you!