Kim Dotcom appeal: 'We were not heard'

Six years after his dramatic arrest, internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's battle against extradition to the United States has reached New Zealand's second-highest court.

The German-born tech mogul's appeal against a decision clearing his extradition began at the Court of Appeal in Wellington on Monday morning.

The Megaupload founder and his three co-accused - Mathias Ortmann, Bran van der Kolk and Finn Botato - were arrested in 2012 in a police raid and charged with a series of copyright-related offences on behalf of authorities in the US over their roles in running the file-sharing website.

Last year, the High Court at Auckland upheld an earlier ruling the group were eligible for extradition on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering - although it found they couldn't be sent to the US on copyright infringement charges alone.

Starting their appeal against the ruling, Van der Kolk and Ortmann's lawyer, Grant Illingworth, on Monday told the appeals court the case had "gone off the rails" during the initial 10-week extradition hearing in 2015.

He argued New Zealand's extradition laws made it clear deciding whether someone could be extradited was not just a rubber-stamping exercise, but required "meaningful" consideration by a judge - which had not been given.

"It all went wrong. It went absolutely, totally wrong," Mr Illingworth said.

"We were not heard."

Under New Zealand law someone could only be extradited for conduct that would have merited a criminal trial domestically, he argued.

Mr Illingworth also raised the prospect the Minister of Justice had been misled when the arrest warrants for the men were issued in 2012, saying it posed questions about the validity of the whole process.

"We say that there was misleading conduct at that stage, because there was no reference to the fact information had been gathered illegally by the GCSB."

Dotcom was not in attendance on Monday.

The hearing has been set down for two weeks.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has led the investigation and claims Megaupload was a criminal conspiracy that earned the men $175 million. If extradited and found guilty in the US, the quartet could face decades in jail.

Meanwhile, Dotcom's lawyers last month said they were suing New Zealand's government for billions of dollars in damages over his arrest.


Eight weeks have been allocated for the hearing starting on August 29.
Source: 1 NEWS


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Euthanasia woman accused assisting suicide was under police watch, court told

Police began intercepting the telephone calls of Susan Dale Austen after discovering her relationship with a woman that committed suicide using a Class C drug.

The trial of Austen, 67, got under way in the High Court at Wellington today.

The Lower Hutt woman has pleaded not guilty to three charges in relation to assisting a woman, Annemarie Treadwell, to commit suicide - two counts of importing Class C controlled drug pentobarbital on two occasions between 2012 and 2016, and one of aiding a person to commit suicide.

After jury selection, Crown lawyer Kate Feltham outlined her case, saying she would call 31 witnesses, including the police officers who attended the scene of Ms Treadwell's death in June 2016, Ms Treadwell's children, Customs officers who intercepted Austen's alleged importation of pentobarbital - a drug that taken in large quantities can suppress the central nervous system, causing a coma and death - and a vet who uses the drug to euthanise animals.

Ms Feltham says Austen's emails, police intercepts and Ms Treadwell's hand-written diary would be key in making her case.

"Over a number of years, Ms Austen made contact with people in China and Mexico to arrange pentobarbital to be sent to New Zealand, and once picked up a package of the drug at a hotel in Hong Kong and brought it back to New Zealand," Ms Feltham said.

She said a police investigation was begun after an autopsy showed Ms Treadwell had pentobarbital in her system and a hand-written diary showing contact with Austen, who is the Wellington president of Exit International, an organisation that endorses euthanasia.

"We [the Crown] will show that Ms Austen gave Ms Treadwell an email address to contact a supplier to arrange pentobarbital to be delivered, which was intercepted by Customs.

''Police obtained access to Ms Austen's emails and saw conversations with Ms Treadwell and overseas [pentobarbital] suppliers."

Ms Feltham said the day Austen was arrested, with a friend in a car park at Percy's Reserve, in Lower Hutt, she had in her possession two plastic bags containing quantities of pentobarbital.

The case is set down for three weeks.

Susan Austen is accused of helping a 77-year-old woman, who was suffering from health issues, commit suicide. Source: 1 NEWS


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Contaminated Mission Bay among a dozen top Auckland beaches Council says don't swim in

A litany of Auckland's most popular beaches are today unfit to swim after sewage leaks were caused by overflowing stormwater in yesterday's heavy deluge.

There are now 11 beaches on Auckland Council's Safeswim website that have active water quality alerts.

The busy Mission Bay Beach in Auckland's east is one of these, and the contamination along Auckland's coastline continues 15 kilometres upwards along Auckland's North Shore, up to Mairangi Bay Beach.

The description of the conditions on the Safeswim website is: "Real time sensors or manual inspections of the wastewater (sewage) network have detected wastewater overflows affecting swimming spots – swimming is not advised."

Contamination of Auckland's beaches does regularly occur following large storms when overflowing stormwater seeps into the city's sewerage system.

Auckland Council typically discourages people from swimming in the city's beaches for 48 hours following a major storm event.

There are now 11 beaches on Auckland Council's Safeswim website that have active water quality alerts, including the very popular Mission Bay in city's east, and Browns Bay in the north. Source: Auckland Council

However, with nearly a dozen beaches with water quality alerts, this level of contamination is quite rare.

The 11 Auckland beaches with water quality alerts are:

- Mission Bay Beach
- Browns Bay
- Castor Bay
- Herne Bay
- Home Bay
- Mairangi Bay
- Milford South
- Narrow Neck
- Okahu Bay
- Point England
- St Mary's Bay

To keep up to date with the water quality of Auckland beaches visit Auckland Council's Safeswim website.

Water quality forecast - arrow in alert zone Source: Te Karere