US case to extradite Roman Polanski is legally flawed, say lawyers

Published: Friday 30th October 2015 by The News Editor

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A court in Poland is due to rule on whether Polish law allows film-maker Roman Polanski to be extradited to the US where he pleaded guilty nearly four decades ago to having sex with a minor.

A judge in the southern city of Krakow heard from lawyers for Polanski and the US, which requested the extradition earlier this year.

Polanski’s lawyers argued that the US request has legal flaws and said the film-maker has already served a prison term under a deal with a Los Angeles judge.

“This is not about justice or the interest of the victim,” lawyer Jan Olszewski said.

The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of statutory rape for having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric study at a state prison, where he served 42 days.

Lawyers have said they understood from a private conversation with the judge that the time in prison would be Polanski’s punishment, but they said the judge later suggested Polanski would go back to prison, at which point he fled to France.

Oscar-winning Polanski, 83, is in Krakow but has not appeared in court.

The verdict will be subject to appeal within seven days. Even if the judge rules that Poland can extradite Polanski, it is unlikely to happen immediately and he will probably go to France or Switzerland, which in 2010 refused to extradite him.

If the ruling does not happen on Friday or if there is an appeal, Polanski is more likely to face extradition, because the new Law and Justice party government to be installed in November makes a point of applying laws strictly and equally to all.

Until now, public opinion in Poland has been mostly in favour of the director considered a celebrity in his childhood country. He won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film The Pianist and was nominated for 1974’s Chinatown and 1979’s Tess.

Polanski’s movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries, but he is avoiding extradition by travelling between only France, Poland and Switzerland.

Published: Friday 30th October 2015 by The News Editor

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