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Megaupload case near collapse: report

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An American district court judge has cast doubt over the whole Megaupload trial, telling the FBI the criminal charges against Kim Dotcom may never make it to trial.

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that during a hearing in Virginia the judge, Liam O’Grady, doubted if “we are ever going to have a trial in this matter” when advised that Megaupload has never been served with papers in the US.

As the newspaper notes, the criminal conspiracy charges in America are vital to the trial as a whole: without a charge carrying a five-year maximum sentence, the FBI won’t be able to meet the criteria necessary to having Dotcom extradited.

The judge’s remarks were made during ongoing legal argument over the future of data held on Megaupload’s servers, during which judge O’Grady asked for more information about why Megaupload had not been served in America.

The company’s lawyer in America, Ira Rothken, reportedly answered that criminal charges could not be laid against Megaupload because it’s not located in US jurisdiction. Prosecutor Jay Prabhu contends the company doesn't matter, because Dotcom - who owns 68 percent of Megaupload - is the FBI's target.

Should the case collapse in America, the only remaining recourse would be to try and secure criminal copyright-breach charges in New Zealand. Without charges in America, however, it’s an open question as to whether evidence supplied by the FBI would be admissible.

The case has been increasingly marred by legal missteps. Earlier, a restraining order seizing Dotcom’s assets was set aside after a paperwork error was discovered; it was reinstated only last week. ®

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