The now three-year cases of Kim Dotcom versus the New Zealand and United States governments have developed into a massive legal grind.
Almost every adverse decision affecting either side finds itself subjected to appeal wherever possible, with neither of the opposing parties prepared to concede defeat.
For Dotcom, the purposes of the battles are obvious. While trying to recoup as much of his seized wealth as possible, the Megaupload founder is determined to avoid extradition to the United States where he faces the largest copyright-focused case in history.
On four occasions the German-born businessman has succeeded in having his extradition hearing delayed but last month his luck appeared to have run out. With a June 2015 hearing looming, Dotcom’s legal team asked the North Shore District Court for an adjournment until October, claiming that the time remaining was not enough to prepare for such a complicated case.
In the event the court refused to grant a delay to a hearing that will decide whether Dotcom and co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk should be sent to the United States to stand trial. The decision led to Dotcom’s lawyers applying for a judicial review.
This morning the parties were back in court yet again, arguing that a four-month delay is necessary in order for Dotcom and his associates to prepare their cases. Led by top lawyer Ron Mansfield, the High Court welcomed the German’s legal team to hearing set to last two days
At least for now, Dotcom’s cash situation doesn’t appear to be hindering his defense. According to 3News the German had a 10-strong legal team behind him this morning. The same could not be said about Megaupload co-defendant Finn Batato, however.
A fellow German and former chief marketing officer at Megaupload, Batato arrived at the High Court this morning without a lawyer in tow. Famously filmed tearing around the Nürburgring circuit with Dotcom and racing driving Kimi Raikkonen, Batato told the court he would be representing himself.
After allowing Batato to move from the public gallery to sit among Dotcom’s lawyers, the Court heard that Batato had made an application for legal aid, a system of government funding designed to ensure people aren’t denied justice because they can’t afford a lawyer.
Grant Illingworth, QC, a 30-year legal veteran with more than 30 Court of Appeal cases under his belt, argued that the complexity of the extradition and Batato’s legal position meant that the hearing should be delayed.
“Mr Batato is waiting on a legal aid application. He has no lawyer and won’t have one unless legal aid is granted,” he said.
According to NZHerald, Illingworth told the Court that not enough information had been supplied relating to how charges from the US matched with crimes under New Zealand law .
“We’re in a hopeless position as far as complying with the timetable… we can’t comply with it,” he said.
If the appeal is successful it will be the fifth time that the extradition hearing has been delayed since the now-infamous Megaupload shutdown of 2012. In the meantime Dotcom awaits a decision on whether an undisclosed dangerous driving offense will affect his residency in New Zealand.