Crown denied suppression of Dotcom raid video footage
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Update 3:25 pm
Justice Winkelmann has ruled that footage of the Dotcom raid can be published by the media, with suppression orders to remain on audio detailing call signs and jargon used by the AOS and STG, and any footage identifying the officers involved in the arrest.
Winkelmann has also ruled that documents pertaining to the arrest will also be made available, except those parts that detail police tactics, and officer names.
The Crown says it will lodge an appeal against the decision, and has asked the judge to stay her decision until tomorrow, an application which Winkelmann has granted.
Update 2:50 pm
Asked by Justice Winkelmann why an effort was not made to arrest Dotcom before he returned home from the city earlier that day, the Special Tactics Group sergeant leading the arrest (whose name is suppressed) says the operation was constrained to commence at 7 am because of other aspects being carried out overseas.
"Part of our planning discussions is to provide alternatives in dealing with a target," says the officer.
"Preferably away from where we consider this person to be a threat. We would have like to do so away from his home address, we have done this with various other operations.
"Unfortunately, we were constrained to the 7am timing."
Update 2:20 pm
Dotcom did not resist his arrest, and nor did he pose a threat to police, says the Special Tactics Group (STG) officer leading the arrest in January.
The officer, whose name is suppressed, told the court that "[Dotcom] wasn't offering any resistance at the time of his arrest."
Paul Davison QC, one of Dotcom's New Zealand lawyers, asked the officer if he witnessed Dotcom being struck.
"No, not to my knowledge," says the officer.
The officer went onto say that Dotcom's right hand may have been stepped on by accident in the process of the arrest. Davison retorted by arguing that the injuries suffered by Dotcom (Dotcom earlier testified that his hand was bleeding) indicated that a substantial amount of force was applied on his hand.
Asked why the STG was involved in the arrest in the first place, the officer says the special unit of the police is not only used in dangerous raids but to provide assistance in breaking barriers and breaching buildings.
Update 1:45 pm
Justice Helen Winkelmann has lifted a suppression order on video taken during the January 20 raid on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion.
Some video footage shot from a police helicopter during the raid was shown in Auckland High Court this afternoon. However neither the breaching of the property nor internal CCTV footage has yet been shown.
Publication of CCTV footage of raid on Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion, which took place in January, would jeopardise future police operations, the Auckland High Court has heard.
Following on from yesterday's hearing, Justice Helen Winkelmann continued hearing arguments for and against suppressing video footage of the raid on Dotcom's property earlier this year. This includes video from the helicopters in the raid, and security footage from Dotcom's compound.
In this hearing, which is expected to last until Thursday afternoon, Dotcom is seeking the return of all evidence seized that is deemed to be irrelevant to the case.
Crown lawyer Fergus Sinclair, who prepared the application for suppression, says the broad scope of Dotcom's request would jeopardise future police operations by revealing classified call signs and procedures used by the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) and Special Tactics Group (STG).
"The concern is it concedes a significant advantage to criminal organisations," says Sinclair.
The identities of the officers involved in the raid, if revealed, would put them in danger and compromise their ability to carry out future operations, argues Sinclair.
Willie Akel, a member of Dotcom's New Zealand legal team, says public access to the footage is important for the sake of "open justice".
"The public at large should see the full picture, they need to know what the issues are within this case," says Akel.
"The public view so far is a very truncated view of what this case is about."
In regards to the secret call signs used by the AOS and STG, Akel says this information is already widely available online, and is commonly used in law enforcement and military.
A quick search online for Armed Offender Squad call signs found this book available on Trade Me with information on the AOS, and this wiki post on call signs.
Yesterday Dotcom stood in the witness box and told the court that he had been physically abused by police in the course of his arrest.
Dotcom said he received “a punch to the face”, felt boots kicking him down to the floor and one officer stood on his hand.
Dotcom said he was then restrained by plastic ties which were painful as they were extremely tight. When he complained the police removed the ties.
Members of the media were given the opportunity to put their argument forward to Justice Winkelmann for access to the CCTV footage. John Campbell of TV3's Campbell Live said yesterday that public interest in the case was profound as "nothing like this has happened in New Zealand before". Another media member said it was in the public interest to ascertain whether Dotcom's claim that he was struck during his arrests were true, and the footage would help clarify that.
The court is continuing to hear legal arguments. An interim suppression order has been placed on any documents and footage that show the STG officers and their use of call signs. A final decision will be made later.
This story will be updated through the course of the hearing. Follow @ComputerworldNZ for more updates.