During an appearance in court today, his third in less than a week, Kim Dotcom was informed that bail had been denied. The judge rejected the MegaUpload founder’s bid for freedom while he awaits extradition to the US and remanded him in custody until late February. Three other alleged co-conspirators will learn of their fate tomorrow.
Following the dramatic events of the previous 24 hours, last Friday the founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, was denied bail in an extradition hearing in New Zealand.
Dotcom, who along with several of his employees was raided by armed police in helicopters the day before, is wanted in the United States on racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday this week with Judge David McNaughton delivering his decision this morning at the North Shore District Court.
Noting the scale of the charges against Dotcom and his considerable resources, Judge McNaughton said he that he had no doubt that fleeing New Zealand could be real possibility for the MegaUpload founder.
Judge McNaughton said that if Dotcom could somehow make his way to his birthplace of Germany, extradition would prove impossible since the country has no such agreement with the United States.
Essentially agreeing with prosecutor Anne Toohey, who had described Dotcom as a “significant” flight risk, Judge McNaughton denied the 38-year-old bail and remanded him in custody until 22nd February.
Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, said that decision would be immediately appealed to the High Court.
“We were hopeful that the judge would accept our intentions and our arguments and see that there was no risk whatsoever of Kim Dotcom seeking to leave New Zealand.
“All of his assets have been frozen, all of his resources have been taken,” he said as he left court today.
“He’s living here with his wife and family, he has no intention whatsoever of endeavoring to leave New Zealand.”
Also appearing in Court today were Dotcom’s alleged co-conspirators Bram van der Kolk, 29, Finn Batato, 38, and Mathias Ortmann, 40.
In a hearing following Mr Dotcom’s, the lawyer representing the three men, Guy Foley, said his clients did not enjoy the same resources as the MegaUpload founder. Foley said that in the absence of a guilty verdict there should be a presumption of innocence.
He described Batato, as a “fair player” who denies involvement in the alleged conspiracy. Prosecutor Anne Toohey described Batato as a series flight risk who, in common with Dotcom, could seek to flee to Germany.
In defense of der Kolk, Foley described him as a family man who had a wife and child in New Zealand. He added that it was troubling that in evidence submitted to the court the FBI had supplied a photograph of someone else.
Ortmann, said Foley, is “decent, modest, honest and reliable” man who would not flee. Prosecutor Toohey said as a German national, fleeing there was a real possibility.
The decision on whether to grant bail to der Kolk, Batato and Ortmann will be delivered tomorrow.