Dotcom case faces more delays
By Boris Jancic
It may have been four years in the making, but no one in the court for Kim Dotcom's extradition really seems to know how the hearing is meant to play out.
Judge Nevin Dawson is hearing evidence in Auckland District Court on whether Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk should be surrendered to US authorities over their part in the running of file-sharing website Megaupload.
Lawyers for the US yesterday finished taking the court through a massive bundle of files supporting the extradition - but then declined to close their case.
This immediately caused Dotcom's lawyer Ron Mansfield to protest, saying the US had to finish.
To add to the confusion, Judge Dawson has to decide on whether several applications to drop the hearing will be argued next, or after the actual hearing - or in the middle.
At the outset, the judge ruled those submissions would be discussed during the hearings - now prompting the question of when "during" is.
On Friday morning lawyers spent an hour and half going back and forward about whether it would be fairer to take care of those complaints before the accused had to explain why they shouldn't be extradited.
Lawyers for the four accused say they haven't been given access to US experts - because of an FBI freeze on money going into the country - which means they haven't been able to properly reply.
But lawyers for the US say the matter could easily be dealt with after or during the respondent's evidence, without prejudicing the hearing.
Even Judge Dawson seemed to have had enough of the debate by the end of the session.
"I hesitate to ask if there's anything further," he quipped, before saying he would issue a minute later today deciding the matter.
The hearing, postponed 10 times before it started last month, will now resume on Monday.
Dubbed the "Mega Conspiracy" by the FBI, US authorities allege the four made US$175 million by facilitating and encouraging piracy on their file storage website and related businesses.
If extradited and found guilty in the US, the men face decades of jail time.