Bail Decision Postponed for Kim DotCom of MegaUpload

Bump and Update: Bail decision reserved until Wednesday. Kim DotCom will stay in custody until then. The Judge is preparing a written ruling. Reuters reports the judge said, "Given the breadth of issues covered in this bail application and the seriousness of the issues, I am going to reserve my decision," said Judge David McNaughton." Sounds like he wants to dot all his "i's for the appeals court.

The other defendants were also remanded. Tbe Judge indicated that his ruling as to Kim Dotcom would also apply to them. Recap of hearing below: [More...]

Update: Prosecutors say the gun had buckshot as well as rubber bullets. They said it was a modified weapon which would have required a permit. But it was in the safe in the room they found in (not as the media has reported, in his arms.) Buckshot is used in hunting. (Although cops like it too.) The prosecution making further arguments.

Update: Court has resumed from lunch. Both sides and the judge just went into chambers for a closed door session. Here's the latest:

  • Kim DotCom's "heavily pregnant wife" was at the house. He wants to stay in NZ to be with his family. (This will be their fifth child.)
  • The gun was in a safe, had never been fired and only had a rubber bullet.
  • Kim DotCom's lawyer insists he was cooperative at the arrest -- he even provided details of a bank account not on their list
  • There's no financial incentive to restart the business because the servers have been shut down
  • His lawyer says, "This is not a case where there will be any concession by Mr Dotcom."
On the prosecution side: When Kim DotCom was charged in Germany, he fled to Thailand and was caught there. (Added: Defense says he was unaware of the charges and returned voluntarily when he learned of them.)He had two Finnish passports. (His lawyer says all passports have been seized.)

Kim DotCom asked the court to be released on home monitoring.

Update: QC Paul Davison, representing Kim DotCom, told the court the mansion's security guard helped police in that prior to the raid, he let an officer in to discuss security matters. The officer was wearing a camera hidden in a pen to record the interior of the house. "He called the police actions "nonsense"."

Original Post

A court in New Zealand is hearing bail arguments for Kim DotCom and the other Megaupload defendants, Bram van der Kolk, Mathias Ortmann, and Finn Batato. The court was in chaos this morning due to the huge media presence.

The prosecutor says one of the defendants who remains at large, Svenn Echternach, is not subject to extradition.

Submissions began with prosecutor Anne Toohey updating the court to the status of two of Dotcom's co-accused. She said Echternach had travelled from The Philipines to Germany, from where he could not be extradited to the USA. There was no agreement between the two countries, she said.

Another, Andrus Nomm, has been arrested in the Netherlands. The remaining at-large defendant is Julius Bencko, 35, of Slovakia.

Grounds for opposing bail:

[Prosecutor Toohey] gave multiple reasons as to why Dotcom was a risk, quoting his refusal to comply with his arrest, his plethora of resources and easy access to a lot of money, his previous flight from Germany, his multiple aliases, dual residency and access to transport such as a helicopter.

She also said there was a risk he would re-offend, that he has several passports is a citizen of several countries. (Finland and Germany that I know of.)

She also opposed electronic monitoring because it would entail phone and internet access.

It would also likely mean the co-conspirators living together, which Toohey said could result in the mega sites being re-activated.

Update: Apparently, the Judge is first hearing DotCom's case and then will hear the other defendants. The Judge said the presence of guns at the home is an aggravating factor for bail.

The defence are arguing this has amplified any offending, which Schmitz denies, "beyond reality" and misrepresents the business of "uploading". They argue the arrests were made in this way to "present the most dramatic intentions" and launch the case.

[The] defence says the scale of the police operation against Megaupload was unnecessarily grandiose. They object to the way search and arrest warrants were carried out, especially where armed offenders arrived in helicopters and dropped into the Dotcom mansion courtyard.

They are also arguing that Schmitz would be unable to carry on the business at the centre of the charges as Megaupload has been shut down, saying he has no interest in restarting the business until this matter is resolved. Schmitz would be seeking redress for the significant losses to his business.

The prosecutor also raised DotCom's access to helicopters. Apparently, there was one at the mansion.
His lawyers also dispute the helicopter claim saying New Zealand is too far away from other countries for it to be used to abscond. They also say it is unlikely he would be able to use a private jet, and this would be hard financially as all but one of his funds have been frozen.

The next step after the bail hearing is the extradition process. The U.S. has 45 days to make its request. It could be up to a year before the four get to the U.S. if they fight extradition. They have the right to appeal and to bring a habeas corpus action if an extradition order is entered. They can also apply for bail pending the extradition appeal.

< Steven Tyler and the National Anthem: Sounded Fine to Me | Walking Back Through the MegaUpload Indictment >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Dotcom and bail decision (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 05:23:50 PM EST
    The guy is 6'6' and weights 300 plus.  Dude's like an elephant on the coffee table wherever he goes.  Love to see the size of the ankle monitor they would give him here (don't know about NZ).  Thing would probably fit around a telephone pole.

    HIGH risk of jumping bail (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:31:45 PM EST
    He fled custody once, new passports can be forged, technowhizzes can wipe out ankle bracelets' transmitters, and he probably has tens of millions in foreign banks.  No one can stop his wife from joining him once he is gone.

    he didn't flee custody (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 04:59:43 AM EST
    he says he didn't know he had been charged when he left and when he found out, he returned voluntarily.

    finding of fact? (none / 0) (#4)
    by diogenes on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 05:57:21 PM EST
    On the face of it, he could have fled and when that turned sour he could have voluntarily turned himself in and said that he "didn't know" that he had been charged.
    It seems that most really rich alleged crooks have a sense that an investigation is closing in on them.  If such a person flees before being "formally" charged, then it affects the risk of flight.
    I lack some facts here; I assume that Mr. Dotcom can and has disproven the prosecution allegations by some witness statements or behaviors beyond the simple statement that he "didn't know" he had been charged and the associated implication that he didn't know that he was potentially going to be charged.  Where was he going when he left Germany, was it spur of the moment or planned, did he leave a very clear back trail, etc?  

    the judge said (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:26:56 PM EST
    in his ruling

    I cannot be certain that the applicant did in fact flee the jurisdiction and neither am I satisfied that he was deported in a legal sense.