Crown: Dotcom disclosure 'wont be the end of it'

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 16:13 30/07/2013
Kim Dotcom
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ
MEGACASE: Kim Dotcom poses for photos at the weekend's anti-GCSB bill protests in Auckland.

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The Crown has warned of further legal battles if Kim Dotcom is granted access to information held by the United States in the case against him.

Legal teams for the Megaupload founder and the Government were in the Supreme Court in Wellington today to sort out, for good, what information Dotcom will have access to as he fights allegations of copyright conspiracy.

Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, is seeking disclosure of all relevant evidence collected in the case, saying it is imperative to a fair hearing.

The Crown, on behalf of the US, says he should have access only to a summary called a "record of case".

The US is seeking to extradite Dotcom to face charges of copyright conspiracy, racketeering and money-laundering allegedly carried out by his file-sharing company, Megaupload.

Crown lawyer Mike Heron said this afternoon that there was no precedent for Dotcom to have access to anything other than a summary of his case.

He said the same arguments - about the lack of a fair trial if access to the information was denied - had been made time and again in the past two decades and had been denied internationally.

Heron said that while he accepted an individual had a right to a fair extradition hearing, this did not extend to granting the same level of disclosure found in a criminal trial.

He said that giving full disclosure was contrary to the New Zealand law that governed extraditions and the country's extradition treaty with the US, and that it was outside the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to make orders against foreign states.

If disclosure was granted, meaning Dotcom would have access to more than just the summary, Heron warned it would open the already hefty legal battle to further arguments.

"It wont be the end of it," he said, adding that there would be further challenges over what was disclosed, how much could be disclosed, what would be missed out and what was relevant.

"We will end up with everything being disclosed," he said.

Kim Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, opened his case by saying his client was "not a fugitive" in a traditional sense and deserved a fair hearing.

He was being denied that chance through a lack of access to the evidence in his case.

Rather than receiving information relevant to the charges against him, Dotcom had been given a summary that "fell short" of the standard required in the Extradition Act.

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The summary drew conclusions without providing any evidence to back them up, Davison said.

It had "serious deficiencies" and failed to show any criminal intent in the way Megaupload was set up.

Davison said the flawed summary, in addition to Dotcom's lack of access to his computers, which were seized, and his frozen assets left the hearing "totally one-sided".

He asked for access to the documents the summary was based on, saying the Supreme Court should be able to rectify the abuse of process.

The matter of disclosure has already been ruled on in three courts. Two judges - one in the District Court and one in the High Court - ruled that Dotcom should be allowed to see all the information, but this year the Court of Appeal ruled against him.

The Supreme Court judges will have the final say on what will be disclosed.

Dotcom will not be at court for the hearing, but some of his co-defendants have flown to Wellington to listen to the arguments.

The hearing is set down for one day, and five Supreme Court judges will consider the case.

The disclosure hearing is one of several strands in the Dotcom case. He is also suing the Government after it spied on him illegally, and has successfully appealed to have some of his property returned.

Dotcom's extradition hearing has had to be delayed several times because of the legal arguments. It is now set down for November.

The case is estimated to have cost the Crown up to $2 million so far.

- Stuff

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