Kim Dotcom wants extradition hearing delayed

  • 08/09/2015
Kim Dotcom (AAP)
Kim Dotcom (AAP)

By Suze Metherell

Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload co-accused have again sought to delay their extradition fight with the US, claiming natural justice has been denied as they're unable to pay for expert witnesses outside New Zealand.

Dotcom and his co-accused are in a long-running court battle with the Crown and US government, which has been seeking to extradite them to face charges of conspiracy to illegally distribute copyrighted material via the Megaupload cloud-storage site.

Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato were charged by the US in 2012, with their assets, mostly in Hong Kong and New Zealand, confiscated by US authorities.

In the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, van der Kolk's counsel Grant Illingworth QC said while the US allowed the confiscated funds to pay for New Zealand legal resources, they could not spend it on expert witnesses outside the country.

"The issue at heart of this appeal is primarily of natural justice," Mr Illingworth said.

"The US asserts it has confiscated property and can enforce that worldwide", preventing the Megaupload accused defending themselves with expert witnesses from outside New Zealand.

Because the copyright charges are US-based, expert legal advice was needed from the US, which differed from New Zealand law, he said.

"We can't become instant experts in US copyright law and US criminal law," Mr Illingworth said.

"We need help from expert witnesses and we're being denied that opportunity."

The extradition hearing is set down to start on September 21, but Dotcom's lawyer Ron Mansfield QC said legal action brought by the US to restrict Dotcom's funding has denied his counsel the five months allowed in a May High Court decision to prepare on the issues.

Mr Mansfield said the case may be the largest criminal copyright fraud case ever, making it complex to defend.

The hearing continues.

NZN