The criminal proceedings against P2P index site ShareConnector is turning into an embarrassing fiasco for the Dutch Department of Justice. A court has decided to reopen the case and summons the public prosecutor as it doubts the legitimacy of the criminal prosecution and the fact that it acted on evidence brought in by local anti-piracy outfit BREIN.
In the early 2000s, ShareConnector was once one of the largest P2P index sites until it was raided in 2004. Since then the operator of the site has been going through various legal battles, of both civil and criminal nature.
In the criminal case the operator of ShareConnector came out as the winner in 2007 and was released from all charges. However, after two years of waiting the Department of Justice decided to appeal the case. The site’s operator aDi was charged with membership of a criminal organization and assisting in the distribution of copyrighted material.
After having heard the case two months ago, the Court of The Hague has now decided to adjourn the case and reopen the proceedings. In quite an unusual move the Court has summoned public prosecutor R. Smits as a witness.
The Court wants the prosecutor to explain why the Department of Justice decided to go through with criminal proceedings in a case where a civil one would seem to be more suited. In The Netherlands copyright infringement related offenses fall under civil law unless they are very severe, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.
In addition, the Court weighs in that the evidence in this case has been collected by the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN instead of the local authorities.
All these issues have been brought up several times by the defense lawyers, who have claimed numerous times that the Department of Justice has been ‘used’ by BREIN. In 2007 this led to the release of all charges against Shareconnector’s operator.
In this initial verdict the Court concluded that the authorities failed to provide any evidence to prove ShareConnector was involved in copyright infringement nor enough to prove that it was criminal in nature. In addition, the judge ruled that the initial arrests were unlawful as the evidence provided by BREIN was insufficient.
This time around it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the case again results in a victory for aDi.
“All in all this court decision could very well lead to the final judgment concluding the suspects unfit to plead because of the terribly unjust raids and lack of genuine investigation,” said aDi commenting on the Court’s actions.
“Is the world finally going to see the major mistakes the Department of Justice is covering up? Hopefully it won’t take another 6 years to get this simple truth outside.”