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UPDATED: Court reserves decision on inaccurate Dotcom search warrants

UPDATED:  The Court of Appeal has reserved its judgment on whether the search warrants carried out during the high-profile arrest of Mega founder Kim Dotcom were so deficient as to be invalid.

The Attorney-General appealed a High Court ruling that declared the search warrants invalid by not being specific enough, by not stating the electronic nature of the copyright offence, or that the US was the nation where he was alleged to have broken the law and to where he was facing extradition.

David Boldt, appearing for the Attorney-General, told the bench it was accepted that the search warrants were clumsily written with errors of expression, but insisted they were valid because they contained enough information and were supported by an arrest warrant.

"The Crown doesn't shrink from the fact these warrants contained errors," Boldt told the court.

While there may have been omissions on the face of the warrant, Boldt said it contained enough information for Dotcom and his co-accused to understand what the charges were, and were issued at the same time as the arrest warrant, which did contain the appropriate information.

Paul Davison QC, counsel for Dotcom, told the appeal court that Chief High Court Justice Helen Winkelmann was right to declare the warrants so insufficient as to be invalid, but if the Appeal Court deemed her to be wrong, that prejudiced his client so much as to amount to a miscarriage of justice.

While the US Federal government has received 19 cloned copies of hard-drives uplifted from Dotcom's mansion, he is still prevented from accessing information needed to aid his defence, Davison said.

Earlier in the hearing, Boldt said there was a very high threshold before a warrant could be declared invalid, and that these contained enough information as not to prejudice Dotcom.

Among the disputed issues were whether the District Court judge who signed the warrant should have imposed conditions on the search warrant to ensure Dotcom and his co-accused received copies of their information once it had been sifted through and the relevant material uplifted.

Justice Tony Randerson questioned Boldt as to why conditions weren't prescribed and the appropriate specifications weren't in place. Boldt accepted the short-comings in the search warrant, though said the legislation didn't require conditions to be imposed.

The hearing is the latest in a series of legal challenges by Dotcom, intended to head off the US Federal Government's bid to extradite Dotcom and his co-accused Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk to face charges of conspiracy to operate websites used to illegally distribute copyrighted content.

The allegations are claimed to have cost copyright holders some US$500 million, of which US$125 million was pocketed by the accused, Boldt said.

(BusinessDesk)


 

EARLIER: Search warrants executed in the 2012 arrest of Mega founder Kim Dotcom were deficient, but not so much as to be invalid and could still be understood by a reasonable person, according to the Crown.

At the Court of Appeal in Wellington, David Boldt, appearing for the Attorney-General, told the bench it was accepted that the search warrants were clumsily written with errors of expression, but insisted they contained enough information, and were supported by the arrest warrant, to be valid.

"The Crown doesn't shrink from the fact these warrants contained errors," Boldt told the court.

Still, Boldt said while there may have been omissions on the face of the warrant, it contained enough information for Dotcom and his co-accused to understand what the charges were, and were issued at the same time as the arrest warrant, which did contain the appropriate information.

Boldt said there was a very high threshold before a warrant could be declared invalid, and that these contained enough information so as to not prejudice Dotcom.

The Attorney-General is appealing a High Court ruling that declared the search warrants invalid by not being specific enough, by not stating the electronic nature of the copyright offence, or that the US was the nation where he was alleged to have broken the law and to where he was facing extradition.

Boldt told the court the cloned copies of hard-drives sent to the US authorities was lawful, as the seizure of items was specifically related to the physical computers, rather than the information on them, and those were still in the hands of the New Zealand Police.

The hearing is the latest in a series of legal challenges to head off the US Federal Government's bid to extradite Dotcom and his co-accused Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk to face charges of conspiracy to operate websites used to illegally distribute copyrighted content.

The hearing, before Justices Ellen France, Tony Randerson and Douglas White, is set down for one day and is proceeding.

(BusinessDesk)

Comments and questions
8

A 'reasonable person' would have not invaded Dotcoms' property based on such vague requests from the US without checking the legality.

Dotcoms playing like a fiddle. You should check ahead on the score... not quite the finish hes building you all up for.

The Crown has created a new fiction novel to justify its behaviour

The warrants to arrest complained that copy of two New Zealand-made films were on servers controlled by Megaupload. Just 2 files

They now claim that the whole company was a front to obtain copyrighted material wrongfully and to misuse it willfully. 12,000,000,000 unique files

Being the only scenario that could provide an extradition offence, and justification for thousands of hours of Crown time, this hearing, a raid, and helicopter fuel wasted, we now see them trying to convince judges of the impossible. Wow

why are u Crown wasting taxpayer funds - get over yourselves crown

" errors of expression " - that is gold!
is that like when yes means no?
Perhaps the threshold for a valid warrant needs to be reduced to include just the general vibe of the thing.
All these laws and procedures are so cumbersome.

It is an embarrassment at times like this to say you are a new Zealander. More so when it shows we are the lap dog of the USA, on what should have been a commercial issue, where the parties who claim they are disadvantaged take LEGAL and commercial recourse to seek redress.

Does surprise me; they knew where Kim Dot Com and associates were.
They weren't going anywhere and the USA and NZ authorities had plenty of time to time and surely resources to ensure all procedures and documentation were correct and would stand scrutiny in all levels of court system.

This is like a bad movie, or a clever version of Dad's Army... You can just imagine them down in the "war room"....

Muppet #2: "...I've made up some stuff to flesh out this warrant, have a read..."

Muppet advisor #1: "....Hmmmm.... no, lets not make this specific otherwise he'll know who's really behind this and if they have specifics they'll have grounds to appeal the warrants, and besides we're not really that clear anyway..."

Muppet #2: "...Oh yeah right! good point...man lucky we have such smart people around us to catch this stuff, that could have been a real nightmare later..."

Muppet advisor #1: "... yeah well its better to be safe than sorry...I've had lots of experience with these sorts of things so you guys don't get yourself in trouble... "

Chief Muppet:: "... excellent work you guys... I'll certainly be making sure "the right people" know how much effort you've put into getting this all squared away, it's a big world and there's lots of bad people out there and bugger those aussies, now it's our turn to be Americas little sheriff!!!

Muppet advisor #1: here here! on and by the way that stab proof vest seems to be fitting you particularly well..."

Chief Muppet: yes yes... well there'll be a few cameras and stuff around so best to look sharp as well as being professional...

EOM