Polish Court Rejects U.S. Request to Extradite Roman Polanski

by Cassandra Vinograd, The Associated Press and Reuters /  / Updated 
Image: Roman Polanski
Filmmaker Roman Polanski walks during a break in a hearing concerning a U.S. request for his extradition over 1977 charges of sex with a minor, at the regional court in his childhood city of Krakow, Poland, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (Alik Keplicz / AP File

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A Polish court on Friday rejected a U.S. request to extradite acclaimed filmmaker Roman Polanski over a child sex-crime conviction, according to reports.

Judge Dariusz Mazur told Krakow's district court that the extradition request was "inadmissible," according to Reuters.

Polanski — who did not appear in court for the ruling — expressed relief over the judge's decision and told reporters in Krakow he was "glad" he had trusted Poland's justice system.

"I can breathe now with relief," he said, according to The Associated Press. "I pleaded guilty. I went to prison. I have done my penalty. The case is closed."

The ruling could close the latest chapter in a decades-long extradition saga around the 1977 crime — though prosecutors could still appeal.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, which has long sought Polanski's extradition, said in an emailed statement that its "position remains the same" following the ruling. It declined to comment further.

Polanski was accused of plying his then-13-year-old victim with champagne and drugs at an L.A. photoshoot, taking topless photos and having sex with her. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and served 42 days in prison as part of a 90-day plea bargain.

However, the Oscar-winner fled the U.S. for Europe on the eve of his formal sentencing out of fear a judge would overrule the initial deal and send him back to prison.

He has since been a fugitive — and U.S. authorities have repeatedly tried to have him extradited.

The 82-year-old director, who won Academy Awards for the 2002 film "The Pianist" and was nominated for 1974's "Chinatown" and 1979's "Tess," did not attend the court hearing.

Polanski's dual French and Polish nationalities have complicated extradition efforts over the years. France, where Polanski has spent most of his time in exile, does not extradite its own citizens.

The Holocaust survivor garnered fame for his films but also for personal tragedy: his first wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson's followers in 1969.

Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, suggested in a series of Facebook posts before the ruling that U.S. officials were pursuing the case to "cover up their own misconduct" and using "a teenage rape victim until their dying breath" to get press.

"Justice is NOT something they seek for victims," she wrote. "If they were smart, they'd stop trying to bring him back."

The judge in Krakow on Friday called the case complicated but said extradition would violate Polanski's rights because the director could face harsh conditions and confinement.

Mazur also said U.S. judges and prosecutors in the case violated legal procedures, broke the plea bargain in 1977, denied Polanski the right to proper defense and appeared biased.

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