George Pimentel/Getty Images
George Pimentel/Getty Images
So clearly Lindsay can stop interviewing lawyers now. All she needs to do to beat this thing is flee the country for 33 years, then all will be forgiven!
The Swiss government this morning announced that it has rejected the U.S.' request to extradite the director back to Los Angeles so that he could finally face up to the charge he fled the country over back in 1977—namely, having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
"The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the U.S.A.," the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement this morning. "The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked.
"He's a free man."
The Ministry firmly pointed the finger of blame at U.S. officials when announcing the shocking decision this morning, saying they failed to provide confidential testimony from his sentencing hearings back in the late '70s.
As they see it, Polanski—initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, sodomy and child molesting, but pleading guilty to just one count of unlawful sexual intercourse—already served his time when he underwent 42 days of a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. His evaluator declared him unlikely to offend again, but when the judge overseeing the case threatened to make him see out 90 days in jail, he fled the country the night before his sentencing.
The Ministry today said the 42 days was adequate for the crime based on the testimony given by the psychiatrist evaluating Polanski and thus, since they don't think the director has any remainder of a sentence to serve out, will not send him back to the U.S.
"If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the U.S. extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation," the Ministry said.
Swiss officials made a point to also note in their announcement that they were not dismissing his crime nor deciding whether Polanski was guilty or innocent of the charges, but said that they had no choice but to deny the extradition request due to "the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case."
"This is not about qualifying a crime. That is not our duty. This is not about deciding on guilt or innocence."
That red tape gets ya every time.
In any case, it may soon be déjà vu all over again, depending on whether or not the Oscar winner now leaves Switzerland. While he is still unable to return to the U.S., stateside officials could make another attempt at extradition should Polanski head to another country that would be willing to go through the whole rigmarole all over again.
However, it's likely he'll return to France, which does not extradite its citizens.
And the U.S. Department of Justice isn't too happy about it.
"Whenever the United States seeks an individual's extradition, we do so on the basis that our request is supported by the facts and the terms of our treaty," Laura Sweeney, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement. "That is true in this case as well. We believe the extradition request submitted by the United States was fully supported by the evidence, met the requirements of the extradition treaty, and involved a serious offense.
"We are very disappointed in the decision of the Swiss government."
The U.S. could also choose to internationally appeal the decision, though that is unlikely.
As for Polanski, whose electronic monitoring was also turned off as of this morning, his attorneys have been quick to praise the decision.
Polanski's France-based lawyer Georges Kiejman said, "I pay tribute to Swiss justice, its judicial analysis is very correct."
His lawyer Herve Temime offered up similar sentiments, saying, "It's an enormous satisfaction and a great relief after the pain suffered by Roman Polanski and his family."
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