Secret High Court Dotcom hearing

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:20 05/03/2013
Kim Dotcom
Reuters
MEGAMIND: Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

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A secret hearing regarding evidence in the Kim Dotcom extradition case is underway at the High Court in Auckland, with lawyers likely to be locked inside for two days.

The material under discussion is so confidential that even Dotcom's lawyers are not allowed in the courtroom, with an amicus, or "friend of the court", instead acting as an intermediary.

Justice Helen Winkelmann will oversee the discussion, which is believed to centre on evidence regarding police actions on the day of the helicopter raid on Dotcom's Coatesville mansion last January.

US authorities want to extradite the German-born internet entrepreneur to stand trial on criminal charges alleging copyright piracy and racketeering.

Dotcom is fighting the charges and the extradition, with multiple aspects of the case in question including the legality of the raid, the level of disclosure of evidence required and the relevance of illegal spying by the Government's security bureau.

Today's hearing relates to the search and seizure of evidence.

The search was ruled illegal by Justice Winkelmann last year and lawyers are now attempting to work out how to remedy police actions for Dotcom.

The process has involved numerous court appearances including many held "in chambers" meaning the media are not allowed to report what happens. In today's case, media were not even allowed inside.

Once Winkelmann makes a decision on the status of the material at the centre of today's discussion, Dotcom's lawyers will be informed about what their client is allowed to have access to.

Meanwhile, it appears the case will reach all the way to the Supreme Court, after Dotcom lost a Court of Appeal decision about the disclosure of the documents that are the basis of the case.

The court said extradition hearings were not trials and the full protections and procedures for criminal trials did not apply.

Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, said his legal team would seek to appeal to the Supreme Court.

They have until the end of March to lodge that application.

A further hearing on search and seizure -possibly including information about the GCSB - will be held in April. The extradition hearing itself is set for August.

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