Poland Will Not Extradite Polanski to U.S., Court Says

Wojciech Zurawski and Wiktor Szary
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Roman Polanski signs autographs at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013.Credit: Reuters
Wojciech Zurawski and Wiktor Szary

REUTERS - A Polish court on Friday rejected a U.S. request to extradite film-maker Roman Polanski over a 1977 child sex conviction, saying his extradition was "inadmissible". The lawyer for his victim praised the ruling.

The decision is not legally binding, as prosecutors can now appeal the ruling. Should the court make a legally binding decision to grant the U.S. request, it will be up to the justice minister to decide on the fate of the 82-year-old Polanski. 

"(Roman Polanski's) extradition is inadmissible" said Judge Dariusz Mazur at the district court in the southern city of Krakow. Extraditing Polanski would lead to him being held in harsh conditions for weeks or months in the United States while his case was being processed, Mazur said. 

An attorney for the woman who was sexually assaulted by Polanski when she was 13 is praising the Polish court's refusal. Lawyer Lawrence Silver, who represents Samantha Geimer, says he has already sent a note congratulating Polanski's lawyers in Poland.

He also called Friday for Los Angeles prosecutors to end any efforts to extradite the director, who fled the United States in 1978 on the eve of sentencing after he pleaded guilty to an unlawful sexual intercourse charge.

Geimer, who long ago identified herself as Polanski's victim, has said she forgives the director. She was attacked in 1977 after a photo session.

The Oscar-winning director pleaded guilty in 1977 to having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. 

Polanski served 42 days in jail after a plea bargain. He fled the United States the following year to Britain and then to France, believing the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and put him in jail for years. 

In 2009, he was arrested in Zurich on a U.S. warrant and placed under house arrest. He was freed in 2010 after Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him. 

The United States requested Polanski's extradition from Poland after he made a high-profile appearance in Warsaw in 2014. The filmmaker, who has Polish and French nationality, lives in Paris but he also has an apartment in Krakow, southern Poland. 

Since fleeing the United States, Polanski won an Oscar for best director for The Pianist. He was in Poland for the shooting of a new film on the Dreyfus affair based on a novel by Robert Harris.