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Polanski appeals extradition; supporters say he already has suffered for his crime

Lawyers for Roman Polanski filed papers in Swiss court appealing a Los Angeles arrest warrant as the firm director's representatives and backers said he already had suffered enough.

Los Angeles County prosecutors want Polanski to face sentencing over having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. The director pleaded guilty but fled the U.S. before sentencing -- living outside the U.S. for the last 30 years.

In a statement, the Swiss Federal Penal Court said the appeal would be reviewed in the "next few weeks." It did not provide further details. A spokesman told reporters that bail was possible but unlikely at this time.

Experts familiar with the Swiss justice system said it's likely Polanski would remain behind bars at least until the court ruled on his appeal.

Meanwhile, Polanski representatives stepped up their campaign to prevent extradition.

On ABC News, Polanski agent Jeff Berg said the director fled because he feared judicial misconduct and that justice had been served. "Roman was incarcerated. Roman did time in a state prison," he said. "My feeling to his critics is, you have to look at a much more complex situation surrounding this case." 

In an open letter, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein called on "every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the U.S.," arguing that "whatever you think of the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time."

Sources have told The Times that Polanski's attorneys helped to provoke his arrest by complaining to an appellate court this summer that Los Angeles County prosecutors had made no real effort to capture the filmmaker in his three decades as a fugitive.

The accusation that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office was not serious about extraditing Polanski was a minor point in two lengthy July court filings by the director's attorneys.

But the charge caught the attention of prosecutors, who had made several attempts to apprehend Polanski over the years.

Swiss officials detained the 76-year-old Saturday as he arrived to accept a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

There have been persistent questions about why authorities arrested Polanski now given that the director has routinely traveled throughout Europe, including Switzerland, without incident. Based in Paris, he spent long stretches in Berlin and Prague filming movies, oversaw theater productions in Vienna and skied at his chalet in Gstaad.

"He's one of the most visible public figures in Europe. When he's doing an opera in Vienna -- where he's been on and off for the past 10 years -- it's in the news," Berg told The Times. "This is not the case of someone being one step ahead of the law."

But what appeared to set the trip apart was its wide publicity in the weeks after Polanski's lawyers  accused prosecutors of inaction.

Details of the festival, such as the timing of Polanski's red carpet stroll and acceptance speech, were readily available online, and movie industry publications had said he planned to attend, including a Daily Variety story in early August.

The month before, Polanski's attorneys filed two separate documents with the California 2nd District Court of Appeal asking for a dismissal of all charges against the filmmaker in the alleged assault of a 13-year-old girl.

In both filings, the lawyers alleged that the district attorney's office in effect benefited from Polanski's absence, because as long as he remained a fugitive, officials could avoid answering allegations of prosecutorial and judicial wrongdoing in the original handling of the case.

"The district attorney's office, in the 30 years since Mr. Polanski left the jurisdiction, has not once sought to have him extradited. If it had, there would have been a hearing regarding misconduct in this case," wrote the attorneys, Chad Hummel, Douglas Dalton and Bart Dalton, in a July 7 filing.

Twenty days later, they filed a second document and raised the issue again in a footnote. "Combined with the fact that no effort has been made to extradite Mr. Polanski, the intent here is clear: Invoke a physical absence which they caused and deliberately perpetuate in order to preserve the unconstitutional status quo and never address the misconduct head on," the lawyers wrote.

The sources, who are familiar with the prosecution's case but spoke on condition that they not be named because the case was open, said the statements prompted the district attorney's office to look anew for an opportunity to seize Polanski. His appearance in Switzerland, where a 1995 agreement allowed extradition to the United States, provided such a chance, the sources said.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office declined to comment on what role if any the court filings by Polanski's attorneys played in the arrest. But the office produced a list of eight instances since 1978 in which prosecutors took steps to apprehend Polanski.

"Those attempts were not successful. This attempt was," spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

Some of the moves were bureaucratic -- the opening of a case file when authorities established that Polanski had taken up residence in France after his flight from L.A. in 1978. But most involved responding to reports of planned international trips by Polanski. Three months after the director became a fugitive, prosecutors learned that he was planning a trip to England and prepared an arrest warrant. It was unclear whether Polanski made the trip, but the warrant was never served.

In 1986, prosecutors consulted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about a possible visit to Canada by Polanski, but the trip never materialized. In 1994, they told the Justice Department that they were still interested in pursuing Polanski and submitted an arrest warrant request to France. His French citizenship had long protected him from extradition, and it's unclear how French officials responded.

In 2005, Polanski traveled to Thailand and prosecutors alerted Interpol, but the director was not arrested. In 2007, prosecutors tried to arrange his arrest during a trip to Israel, but authorities there requested additional information, and the director left the country in the interim.

The final date on the list, Sept. 22, was the day prosecutors prepared the provisional warrant for Polanski's arrest en route to the film festival.

-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton

Comments () | Archives (98)

In an open letter, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein called on "every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the U.S.," arguing that "whatever you think of the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time."

So called crime. Mr. Weinstein isn't even certain that drugging and raping a thirteen year old is a crime? Take away the name and Polanski is just another sex offender/child rapist on the run from the law. He shouldn't be treated any differently just because he has powerful friends in Hollywood or France.

Jeff Berg and Harvey Weinstein are better at making movies than they are opining about the law. What is Berg suggesting? That anyone who sincerely believes they have been punished enough or punished unfairly has the moral right to take matters into their own hands and skip town? That the criminal should be his own judge, jury and executioner?

This is the thing that Polanski and his supporters cannot bring themselves to address squarely. They make a passing admission - yes, it was wrong to run - but then quickly try to change the conversation to another topic, everything or anything except Polanski's fugitive status. They want to talk about his terrible childhood, the allegations of judicial misconduct, that prosecutors haven't vigorously pursued Polanski in the past, that the victim today wants the matter dropped and the vast Obama-Swiss conspiracy to make Polanski a pawn in a geopolitical game (I hope Oliver Stone can direct the movie and explain the roles of the FBI, the Mafia and Cuba). They rest of us know none of that matters until Polanski accept that the only venue he can make these arguments is IN the courthouse, not outside it.

Attention child rapists!

If you’re currently sitting in jail for your crimes, you’ve obviously gone about all of this the wrong way! Here are the instructions for future miscreants:

1) Make sure you have a sob background story about your upbringing, so that you’ll appear more sympathetic after you get caught.

2) Learn how to use a camera and make crappy movies, so that you can be considered a “celebrity” (note: you can also learn to sing and dance really well, or become a successful actor). Anyone considered half-way successful in “show business” has their posterior regularly smooched by Hollywood (and by law enforcement if you’re in LA). This step may take some time to achieve. But keep at it, it will be worth it!

3) Select a 13 year victim, lie to her and her mom about your intentions (this is where your celebrity status will help—they’ll totally trust you), get her alone, get her wasted on illegal drugs and booze, and then violate her six ways to Sunday in every orifice on her tiny little body. Quiz her over and over about if she’s menstruating to make sure there’s no pesky living, breathing evidence afterwards.

4) Thank your lucky stars that after the crime you’ve committed, you may actually be able to plead this whole thing down and make it go away! Only 40 days in evaluation…sweet!

5) Uh oh. Looks like you may actually do some time for this….the judge may not be havin’ this whole plea deal thing! HEAD FOR ZEE HILLS!!!

6) Make a nice life for yourself abroad. Get a hot French wife, have a couple of kids. Continue to make crappy movies, which your fellow Hollywood ilk will eat up like candy. Send a nice postcard to the LA District Attorney’s office every few years or so with the words “Nyah nyah nyah NYAH nyah” and a smiley face on it. Go to lavish award ceremonies to pick up awards, but only after checking the extradition policies of where they’re being held.

7) Give your victim some money to make this all go away, and then tell everyone she’s fine with everything that happened and she wanted it. I mean, she wants her name out of the papers, right? She’s a nobody, and you’re FAMOUS!

Now rapists, if you can manage this and stay A FUGITVE for more than 20 years, your heinous crime will be forgiven! Time heals all wounds! Celebrities will defend you! Foreign countries will protect you! It’s okay that you literally ran from justice, all is forgiven! That was where you guys in prision all went wrong---you actually stuck around for sentencing! Suckers!

Oh, and Mr. Phillip Garrido? No such luck for you I’m afraid, even though what you did was right up there on the Disgusting Meter. You got caught “this close” under the 20 year mark, and you’re not famous. Try to become a You Tube sensation or something next time. Go to Mr. Chow’s a lot. Move to Malibu.

Why should a rich and famous person be allowed to get away with raping a teenage child? This guy deserves the finest cell County can offer him along with Bubba as his cell mate. That would be great with me.

Wait, I have a proposal to Arnold, can Roman Polanski share a jail cell with Phill Spector? People would pay to see that. Maybe we can raise enough money to rid the State of this deficit.

He's suffered enough? He's a great artist? He had a sad childhood? There was misconduct by the DA? The Judge was going to dump the plea agreement? Debra Winger is in pain? There was a documentary? He's traveled before without being arrested?

Enough of the PR spin. He's a felon who fled the US illegally. Let this jerk come to court in LA and face justice for raping a child and fleeing prosecution. Nothing else is acceptable. Period.

I haven't seen the propaganda piece arguing "judicial misconduct," but how convenient that this libel occurs after poor Judge Rittenband is no longer here to defend himself. FACT: justice requires that scofflaws and fugitives be held accountable, even after 30 yesrs. FACT: Polanski admitted the despicable and perverted crime. FACT: there is no "artist exception." FACT: Polanski has led a cushy, privilege-filled life, and has traveled freely to pursue his "art." FACT: it is legally irrelevant that the victim has forgiven him. FACT: it is legally irrelevant whether he is a predator (and how do we know he is not?). FACT: "Hollywood" proves itself -- again -- to be morally and intellectually bankrupt. Shame, shame on Harvey Weinstein, Debra Winger, and the other tools of the machine.

Harvey Weinstein called on "every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the U.S.," arguing that "whatever you think of the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time."

No Harvey he hasn't and that is the point. Polanski may have had concerns about the actions of the original judge, but legal process offers a wealth of possible actions in such circumstances. However Polanski ignored all of them, saw himself above the law and ran away like a coward.

If he had used the appeal process, or asked for a re-trial back in 1978, this would have all been concluded years ago. It was Polanski's choice to run and the French government's choice to shelter him. Together they are to blame for dragging this mess out over 31 years.

I hope he is extradited and I hope he gets a fair hearing and the opportunity to plead his case. But nobody and I mean NOBODY should be allowed to thumb their nose at the proper legal process.

The Swiss had better not free Polanski. I believe that would be a flagrant violation of their legal agreement regarding extradition they have with the US. And because ... he has a poor record of being free on bail ... and showing up to court.

Why should someone who is rich and successful be above the law? He admittedly drugged and raped a child. His defense that "he has suffered enough" does not hold water. Does that mean ... he is free to violate laws however he chooses ... and should be above the law? That is ridiculous. Nor does his defense that ... she was "near" age of consent in France does hold water ... since 1) it did not occur in France, and 2) because she still WAS below age of consent. Period.

Perhaps in France, they think that if you are rich enough to avoid serving jail time and keep "clean", that time allows you to go free. However, we rightfully believe that prison time is for both punishment and rehabilitation. Also remember, when one is a visitor in another nation, one needs to be respectful of their laws -- even if one disagrees with them.

Based on US laws, this pedophile must be returned to the US to face justice for his clearly highly criminal act. Do the crime, serve the time.

Yeah, bring him back and try him. But only after the courts finish with Bush administration, when the real estate industry admits its responsibility for the meltdown, when Fox News and MSNBC lose their licenses to broadcast news and not opinion, when the SEC officers who let Madoff get away go to prison, and when Oprah proves to be the example for all those health aids and diet cures she pushes.

This is unbelievable. A man who plead down from a charge of rape to a charge of unlawful sex with a minor has already had a break. The testimony of the thirteen year old girl was that she was drugged and as the child rapist sodomized her as she plead for him to stop. If there was any prosecutorial misconduct it was that they allowed this bastard to plead to the lower charge. Then he runs to france and hollywood where they must allow this kind of thing as a matter of regular social intercourse.

If he had any guts he would return, plead guilty to statutory rape, beg forgivness then spend the rest of his worthless life in Folsom. How anyone can support an industry that supports child rapists if they are rich enough is beyond me. One would expect Weinstein to support rapists. After all David the king got off with a some poetry after screwing another man's wife and then sending the man off to die in the wars. It must be a cultural thing where they take a bad example and make it the norm. Woopie, Weinstein and their friends can go to hell.

I urge all US movie goer's to boycott Harvey Weinstein's movies and productions lest they wish to support a hollywood pig who supports child rape and crimes against children.

Let Harvey and Roman serve their time together locked up in Folsom.

James McDonald

He's suffered enough? He's spent 30 years living a life of luxury in Europe (nice ski chalet) and someone has the gall to say he's suffered enough? Let's be clear people... he didn't have a random one night stand after a drunken party - he forcibly raped and sodomized a 13 year old girl - by his own admission. I wish I could suffer as much as Polanski, but I apparently haven't committed a horrendous enough crime.

According to Whoopi Goldberg, it wasn't RAPE rape. Why is that? Because it was rape while famous, which apparently is forgivable. Added to murder while famous, skipping the country after conviction while famous, drunk driving while famous. We out here, the UNfamous, these are the rules by which we live our lives. If we see that YOU, the famous, are treated differently, we lose respect for the legal system, the effects of which are seen every day on the street. I'm sick to death, and I'm not alone, with "the famous" demanding special treatment. Get over yourselves. Rape is rape. Child rape is rape. I'm going to start watching documentaries exclusively. Animal behavior is so preferable to what I'm seeing in the entertainment industry. ellen

I really don't care what happens to Polanski, he isn't in this country doing anything here. I do care about the thousands of current prisoners California is releasing because of over-crowding.

So you "law and order" types want to lock up some guy who really never wants to come to the US. The state is letting hardened criminals out because we don't have space - prison costs a ton of money and has turned into a HUGE money making industry and if you haven't noticed CA is out of money.

So, who would you rather have in prison? Some 76 year old who was out of our hair anyway, or someone who may still be dangerous but will need to be released because we put Polanski in jail?

I hope all you "law and order" types voted, and will vote in the future, for more taxes to keep dangerous people like Polanski off the streets. OY! Priorities people.

What do they mean by "alleged"? He admitted to raping her. He was just supposed to be sentenced right before he fled. He committed a heinous crime and it wasn't the only time he did this. He seduced Natassja Kinski when she was a teenager. Even though it was consensual, she was still a minor. I'm sure there were others.
He needs to fully pay for all he has done. Why the DA ignored him all that time is irrelevant. He still committed a crime that he needs to be punished for. Please tell me how has he done his time gallivanting around Europe?

It is pointless to argue the Polanski lynch mob. Most of whom probably cannot look at themselves in the mirror. Nobody is above the law rich or famous - true. The mother of the 13 year old victim made a horrible judgement call that day by pimping her daughter to a Hollywood scene for her own selfish interests. Can we get a guilty plea for that?

In reaction to Polanski's arrest, former French minister of culture Jack Lang said, “Sometimes, the American justice system shows an excess of formalism,” Mr. Lang said, “like an infernal machine that advances inexorably and blindly." Has M. Lang read Les Miserables? Was Victor Hugo a resident of Los Angeles, or Paris?

The victims wants to move on and forget about the whole thing. We have too much money and because he is famous. Robbers and thugs gets to walk the streets while we are after a 76 year guy? I know a lot of people are out to get him and even the former prosecutor is softening his stance.

Connecting The Dots.

If the Accuser (child) didn't press charges, then the Accused (adult) wouldn't have been arrested, who by the way acknowledged his guilt in the crime of Rape (child).

At this stage, it's The State of California vs. Roman Polanski (criminal court)... not Victim vs. Roman Polanski (as in small claims court).

What the victim says now cannot free Mr. Polanski. He has his due process (Appeal) once he's "back in the fold" so to speak.

So Polanski is now the victim?

BOYCOTT The Weinstein Company

So all Philip Garrido needs to do to get Harvey Weinstein in his corner is to direct a couple of movies. Oh I'm sorry, films.

Mr. Polanski's wife and unborn child were murdered.
The people responsible for that crime were arrested, convicted and are in jail to this day.
Roman Polanski DRUGGED AND RAPED A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL and he's been out living the life of Riley ever since! How in the world can these actors and director get it in their warped, sick minds that he has suffered enough? You people in Hollywood are sick, disgusting people, I just don't understand how the movie making industry can be so morally deprived that they can excuse such lewed behavior.
Extradite him and put him in jail until his death, that is exactly what happened to those who committed the crimes against his family.

It warms my heart to read the other post's on this page and confirm that you are all in agreement that Polanski deserves to be tried in a court of law, and not in a court of public opinion. God bless you all for upholding Christian morals!

Amazing how he's gotten away with it in the first place. Seems like celebs get away with everything, phil spector being the one exception. Oh yea and Mahony & his band of merrymen.

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