Crown: Dotcom confusing hearing with trial

  • 24/11/2015
Kim Dotcom (AAP)
Kim Dotcom (AAP)

By Boris Jancic

After years of fighting extradition to the United States, Kim Dotcom can do nothing but wait until the judge hearing his case returns with a decision.

The German-born internet mogul and his former associates – Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk – are accused of making US$175 million from what US authorities say is a criminal conspiracy based around file-sharing website Megaupload.

Since Dotcom's dramatic arrest in 2012, the US has been asking to have the men surrendered to stand trial for a string of copyright-breach related charges.

Today, 10 weeks of arguments about the extradition concluded.

Filled with complex legal debates about interpretations of extradition treaties, procedural matters, and applications, the hearing – originally set down for only four weeks – began to visibly test the patience of both lawyers and judges.

On the final day, a forward and back ensued, with both sides trying clarify last-minute points.

Ortmann and Van der Kolk's lawyer, Grant Illingworth said the US had unfairly "ambushed" them with new evidence in its reply to their reply to the US case.

When Ms Gordon then requested a reply to the reply to her reply, Judge Dawson seemed to have had enough.

"Is there going to be an end to this?" he asked the Crown lawyer.

Soon after he retired to make his decision and will deliver his ruling in open court at a later date.

During the hearing, lawyers for the US argued Megaupload was an elaborate copyright-infringing conspiracy that not only didn't prevent piracy, but endorsed it.

Crown lawyer Christine Gordon told the Auckland District Court users who uploaded large amounts of illegal files were paid bonuses, then other user charged to watch them.

A series of messages between the men showed they knew authorities would eventually come for them, she said.

Dotcom was quoted as referring to them as "evil" – although this was later contested.

For their part, the defence said the US had cherry-picked quotes and badly mistranslated others to cobble together a case.

Dotcom's lawyer Ron Mansfield said none of the 13 charges were actually extraditable offences and copyright crimes were excluded from being called "fraud" – as the US suggested.

He asked for the case to be dropped entirely, saying the US had hobbled their defence by barring them from hiring American experts using fugitive laws.

The accused face four charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and two kinds of criminal copyright infringement.

They have been locked in a protracted legal battle over the case, which also included two Supreme Court cases, since Dotcom was arrested in a "Hollywood-style" police raid at his Coatesville mansion in 2012.

If extradited and found guilty, they could face decades in jail.

NZN