Solicitor-General seeks jail for US businessman
Solicitor-General David Collins is going to the High Court to ask for American businessman Vincent Ross Siemer to be indefinitely imprisoned.
The civil case involves allegations that Siemer allegedly continues to breach an injunction which three years ago effectively gagged him from commenting on Vector chairman and insolvency expert Michael Stiassny.
The hearing has been set for Monday at Auckland.
"The Solicitor-General seeks an indefinite term of imprisonment until the court is satisfied that Siemer has complied with the injunction and has given an adequate undertaking not to breach it in the future," a spokesman for the Solicitor-General told NZPA today.
Mr Collins has applied to the High Court for Siemer to be found in contempt of court.
The hearing will be before two judges, who on May 29 rejected an application Siemer made for trial by jury under section 24(e) of the Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Mr Collins alleges that "by publishing material on certain websites", Siemer has been and continues to be in deliberate breach of an injunction made in the High Court in May 2005, "such that he is in contempt of court".
The Lawfuel website reported last night that the trial would canvass similar ground to a hearing conducted by Justice Judith Potter last year when she sentenced businessman Siemer to six weeks in prison for publishing allegations against Mr Stiassny, in breach of a court order.
The American, who lives in Springfield, Missouri, but also has a house north of Auckland, was arrested in 2007 on his arrival at Auckland Airport from the United States.
He was accused of defying a court order from April 2005 which directed him to stop spreading defamatory material about Mr Stiassny.
Siemer had previously been fined for failing to shut down a website detailing his legal dispute with Mr Stiassny, and in 2006 he and his company were ordered in the High Court at Auckland to pay $198,000 in fines and costs.
The Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, and the Supreme Court dismissed a further appeal by Siemer.
His six weeks in Mt Eden Prison, including a three-week hunger strike, are the subject of a book titled The Rock, available in New Zealand and sold on the internet by Amazon.com.
The Lawfuel website reported Siemer would argue that the Solicitor-General's action was barred by double jeopardy.
"He also maintains he had long ago proven in court that the injunction was incorrect in fact and law but that the judge simply ignored the law and evidence," Lawfuel reported.
"He says the gag order violates his freedom of expression guarantees in these circumstances".