Roman Polanski Runs Free Once Again


After months of legal wrangling, the Swiss government has decided not to extradite Roman Polanski for trial in the US. He is now, apparently, “a free man.”

According to the AP, the Swiss Justice Ministry cited “national interests” in its decision not to extradite Polanski. It’s unclear whether Switzerland’s national interests include offering safe harbor to child rapists, but whatever the case, Polanski has been released from the hellish conditions of house arrest at his chalet in Gstaad, where he’s been since December. It’s also unclear whether Polanski has already left the chalet, what his travel restrictions will be given that he’s still a wanted man, or what the US authorities’ reaction will be — the Los Angeles District Attorney, who had been pushing for extradition, will likely respond today. For the time being, though, he’s free.

The Swiss Justice Ministry also criticized US authorities in its statement, saying, “the reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request” because the US courts had failed to furnish the Swiss with documents they requested. They were also critical of the US for waiting until 2009 to file an extradition order, even though they’d known since 2006 that Polanski went to Switzerland regularly, supposedly lulling the director into a false sense of security. The Ministry argued, “Roman Polanski would not have decided to go to the film festival in Zürich in September 2009 if he had not trusted that the journey would not entail any legal disadvantages for him.”

Of course, it’s debatable whether someone fleeing prosecution should have felt safe from legal action anywhere, but the Swiss are right that California authorities bear a lot of blame for the way Polanski’s case has gone. Had the judge in his original trial not had inappropriate contact with prosecutors, had everyone involved with the case not allowed Polanski’s celebrity to taint the proceedings (both to his benefit and detriment), then perhaps Polanski could have been sentenced appropriately back in 1978. And then perhaps we wouldn’t still be arguing about whether a man’s genius, combined with the passage of time, should get him off the hook for rape.

Polanski Free As Swiss Reject Extradition Request [NYT Arts Beat Blog]
Swiss Reject U.S. Extradition Request For Polanski [LA Times]
Polanski Won’t Be Extradited From Switzerland To U.S. [Bloomberg]
Breaking News: Roman Polanski Will Not Be Extradited Back To US [Radar Online]

Earlier: Polanski Speaks – But Doesn’t Apologize
Roman Polanski, Amanda Knox, And The Problem Of Celebrity Criminals

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