Home > Polanski’s US extradition request rejected

Polanski’s US extradition request rejected

Polanski (left) listens to his lawyer during a court sitting in Krakow on September 22. PHOTO: REUTERS

Polanski (left) listens to his lawyer during a court sitting in Krakow on September 22. PHOTO: REUTERS

KRAKOW / POLAND: Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski said on Friday he was grateful and relieved after a Polish court rejected a US request for his extradition over a 1977 child sex conviction. The case of the Polish-born Polanski, now 82, remains an international cause célèbre nearly four decades after the crime, with some demanding harsh punishment and others urging that extradition efforts be dropped.

A judge in a Polish court in the southern city of Krakow ruled against the extradition, saying the US judiciary had violated Polanski’s rights in the past and that he would be subject to infringements if handed over now. “The extradition is inadmissible,” said Judge Dariusz Mazur.

He added that it was clear Polanski was guilty and deserved to be punished. But that Polanski’s right to a fair trial and right of defence had been “grossly and repeatedly violated” over the years by several US judges and prosecutors, including when the first bargain deal was annulled.

Some progress in Polanski’s case

“The case is over, at least in Poland, I hope. I can sigh with relief. It’s difficult to describe how much time, energy and effort this costs, how much suffering it brought on my family,” Polanski told a news conference in Krakow. “It’s simple. I pleaded guilty, I went to prison. I served my punishment. It’s over,” he said.

Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. He served 42 days in jail after a plea bargain but later fled the United States, fearing a lengthy jail time if the deal was overruled. In 2009, he was arrested in Zurich on a US warrant and placed under house arrest and freed in 2010 after Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has long insisted that Polanski remains a fugitive and is subject to immediate arrest in the US because he fled the country before sentencing. “Our position on this matter remains the same,” Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the DA, said on Friday, declining to comment further.

Child sexual abuse cases rise by 17%, says UNICEF-funded study

Since fleeing the US, Polanski won an Oscar for best director for The Pianist, a film based on a memoir of a famous Polish Jewish pianist and composer who survived the Holocaust. Polanski, who holds both French and Polish citizenship, lives in Paris but also has an apartment in Krakow and regularly visits Poland.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2015.

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