Cops May Have To Return Dotcom's Fortune Due To 'Procedural Error'

When New Zealand authorities raided the estate of MegaUpload boss Kim Dotcom, they confiscated nearly $US200 million worth of property. But, as it turns out, the court order authorising this seizure was invalid because the police filled out the wrong paperwork. Oops.

Prior to the raid, police commissioner Peter Marshall's office reportedly applied an inapplicable legal statute to the case and consequently filed for the wrong kind of restraining order — one that would have prevented Dotcom from properly defending himself in court. The police realised their "procedural error" on January 30 — after the raid went down — and refiled the correct forms while listing property already in their possession.

So the police basically asked the court's permission to do something they had already done. Presiding Justice Judith Potter is not amused. On Friday, she invalidated the initial (incorrect) order, but she did allow the new order to stand, though only on a temporary basis. The police are now arguing that despite the five errors on their initial filing, the fact that the new order has been granted — and that they've already got Dotcom's stuff — makes the entire situation a non-issue. Dotcom's defence team, conversely, is arguing that since the seizure was carried out using an invalid order, it was "unlawfully seized and restrained" and should therefore be released.

Justice Potter must now decide whether or not to actually return Dotcom's property, as the law in question does grant a degree of leeway for filing mistakes like these, and the defence will have to prove the prosecution acted in bad faith. [New Zealand Herald]

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