Kim Dotcom takes the stand over raids

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:17 07/08/2012
Kim Dotcom and Mona Schmitz
Reuters
ON ARRIVAL: Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his wife Mona Schmitz arrive at New Zealand's High Court in Auckland August 7, 2012.

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Internet piracy-accused Kim Dotcom has taken to the witness stand today claiming he was punched and kicked by police during the raid on his home.

Dotcom is in the High Court at Auckland at part of a "remedies" hearing following a ruling that the January raids on his Coatesville home were deemed illegal last month.

Dotcom is seeking to have all seized evidence irrelevant to the case returned to him.

US authorities claim Dotcom and his three co-accused - Mathias Ortmann, Fin Batato and Bram van der Kolk - used the Megaupload website and its affiliated sites to knowingly make money from pirated movies and games.

He is facing copyright infringement and money laundering charges.

Dotcom said if authorities had knocked on his door instead of banging it down he would have happily co-operated, despite a sign in his gatehouse saying "do not let the police in".

Dotcom said he was unaware of the gatehouse sign until after his arrest. He said if police had arrived at the gate, security would have called his bodyguard, Wayne Tempero, who would have called him.

"If someone had knocked on our door and said we have a document here with charges I would have let them in because I had no expectation that anything like this could ever occur," Dotcom said.

He said police, who had been following him for some hours before the arrest, could have just arrested him as he left a music studio early in the morning.

"If I was the police, I would have done it that way."

Asked under cross-examination by Crown lawyer John Pike if approaching the house differently would have allowed Dotcom time to encrypt or destroy files and links on his computers, Dotcom said that was "ridiculous".

By the time armed police arrived at his door, the other arms of the international operation had already shut down the overseas servers, he said.

At the time of the raid, Dotcom was working on a bed in his bedroom, installing a Windows update on his computer.

He heard a helicopter overhead, which was "not unusual" because he was expecting guests at his Coatesville home.

However, when the helicopter landed in the courtyard and began pinging stones onto glass and walls, he knew something was wrong.

"Shortly after that I heard heavy banging on my [bedroom] door."

Dotcom pressed a security button which alerted his security team and sent an SMS to everyone in the house. He ran to his "red room", a safe room off the bedroom, he told the court.

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In the red room was a gun, one of two in the house, there in case of an emergency.

Dotcom said he was assured by his bodyguards that the first two rounds in the gun weren't designed to kill people, only to fend off an attacker.

He said he had reason to fear for his safety. While he and his wife were living in the Philippines there were threats made against him, and the Government had provided bodyguards for the family believing the threats were valid.

When police entered the room, Dotcom was sitting behind a pillar. Allegations he had shut the door in a policeman's face were untrue, he said.

Dotcom only realised the men in his house were police after he went into the room because he could hear them yelling.

"I heard loud banging noises. I was just scared and worried. I thought I'd better wait for them to come to me... rather than popping out and scaring someone who might shoot me."

When police entered, he put his hands up.

"And then they were all over me. I had a punch to the face, boots kicking me down to the floor... a knee to the ribs... one man was standing on my hand."

Dotcom said he was pushed to the floor and his hands tied.

"It was really tight. I was screaming," he said.

After he complained to police, they cut the ties.

Dotcom said nothing at the home had been the same since the raids.

"It was very dramatic. Our beautiful home was turned into a haunted house. Life was not the same after what happened."

Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC said at a previous hearing there were "a number" of items seized he believed were irrelevant to the extradition case, but how to determine that was somewhat problematic.

During the three-day hearing, the court will also hear from members of the Special Tactics Group and the head of the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand, Grant Wormald.

The Crown is seeking for all images and CCTV footage from the raids to be suppressed.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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