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Kim Dotcom extradition hearing will proceed

By | Published on Tuesday 22 September 2015

Kim Dotcom

So, the much delayed extradition hearing of the former management of MegaUpload got underway in New Zealand yesterday, the main development being that it didn’t instantly stop. Which it could have done.

As previously reported, lawyers for MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues at the long defunct file-transfer company have been busy trying to get their clients’ extradition case pushed back yet again.

In particular, they argue that, because the funds seized from MegaUpload when it was shut down in 2012, some of which have since been made available to help fund Dotcom et al’s defence, cannot be spent outside New Zealand, the defendants cannot hire experts in US copyright and criminal law.

This, the lawyers argue, will deny their clients a fair extradition hearing. But the prosecution argue that the extradition proceedings are a matter of New Zealand law, so the defendant’s lawyers should be more than capable of providing decent defence counsel.

Attempts earlier this month to halt the extradition hearing from kicking off this week failed, with judges saying that there wasn’t time to consider the lengthy arguments presented by both sides and that, anyway, it would be better to consider those arguments at the same time as the so called ‘eligibility hearing’, when the case for extraditing Dotcom et al itself is reviewed.

Which meant that, as that hearing got underway yesterday, most court time was focused on the so called stay applications filed by the defence in a bid to further delay the proceedings, and other discussions regarding the order in which different elements of the case should be considered.

Earlier today, judge Nevin Dawson ruled that the case should proceed as planned and that the next scheduled hearing on Thursday will therefore go ahead.

“The interlocutory applications now before the court” said the judge, according to NBR, “are such that they would best be heard and considered by the court during the eligibility hearing as they are largely contextual in nature. The court would be better placed to rule on these applications, having had the benefit of hearing the evidence of the eligibility hearing”.

So that’s fun. Meanwhile, Dotcom was allowed to bring his own chair into court for “ergonomic reasons” as the proceedings got underway, so that the controversial digital entrepreneur’s back is protected even his mind explodes amidst the tedious legal debate that is now expected to unfold as the extradition hearing goes through the motions.

The MegaUpload men are, of course, accused of racketeering, money laundering and rampant copyright infringement by the US authorities in relation to their former business, which was shut down by the feds over three years ago.

Much of the wrangling around the case to date has focused on legal technicalities, though there was some talk of the core copyright infringement allegations on Monday, with a reminder that the Mega men’s main defence is ‘safe harbours’. Meaning that, while the criminal case against Dotcom et al has moved along at a snail’s pace, the legal issue at the heart of the proceedings remain very timely for the music industry.