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Roman Polanski freeing meets with outrage from prosecutors, U.S. State Department [Updated]

The Swiss government’s decision Monday to free Roman Polanski met with outrage from L.A. County prosecutors and the U.S. State Department.

Polanski will not be extradited to the United States to face sentencing for having sex with a girl -- the ultimate charge in the case after a plea deal – allowing him to roam freely in Switzerland and France, where he has lived since he fled the United States before his sentencing 32 years ago.

Local and federal officials vowed to continue the pursuit of Polanski, though their options are now significantly limited.

“A 13-year-old girl was drugged and raped,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. “This is not a matter of technicality. To push this case aside based on technicalities we think is regrettable …. We think it sends a very important message regarding how ... women and girls are treated around the world."

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman at the Department of Justice, which helps process extradition requests, said federal prosecutors are "very disappointed in the decision by the Swiss government."

"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,’’ she said. "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.’’

L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who led the effort to bring Polanski back to the U.S., said he was dumbfounded. "Mr. Polanski is still convicted of serious child sex charges," Cooley said.

[Updated at 3:18 p.m.: In a statement, Cooley added: “I am deeply disappointed that the Swiss authorities denied the request to extradite Roman Polanski. Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements of the extradition treaty and requests by the U.S. and Swiss Departments of Justice and State.

“We will discuss with the Department of Justice the extradition of Roman Polanski if he’s arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction,” the district attorney added.]

The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said the U.S. had failed to turn over certain documents requested by the Swiss.

The Swiss government's announcement was a dramatic development in a case that has lasted more than 30 years. In 1978, Polanski fled the U.S. hours before he was to be sentenced for having unlawful sex with a minor.

He has not set foot in the U.S. since. Born in France, Polanski is a French citizen.

The director has been in Swiss custody since September of last year, when police in Zurich arrested him on his arrival in the city to accept a lifetime achievement award at the local film festival. The arrest was performed at the request of authorities in Los Angeles.

The U.S. lodged a formal extradition request at the end of October. Legal experts said that by law, Swiss justice officials were obliged to rule on the request only on technical and administrative grounds, examining it to see that all proper procedures were followed, rather than on the actual merits of the case against Polanski. In its decision Monday, the Swiss Justice Department said it could not exclude the possibility that the extradition request was "undermined by a serious fault" because the U.S. had failed to turn over certain documents.

Specifically, the Swiss wanted to determine whether the 42 days Polanski had already spent in a Los Angeles jail would have been considered sufficient time served for having sex with a minor.

Also, Swiss authorities said that until 2009, the U.S. had not filed any extradition request against Polanski "for years," even though it knew he had bought a house in Switzerland in 2006 and was a regular visitor there. That gave the director a reasonable expectation that he was not under threat of arrest and deportation from there.

"Roman Polanski would not have decided to go to the film festival in Zürich in September 2009 if he had not trusted that the journey would not entail any legal disadvantages for him," the Swiss justice department said.

-- Henry Chu in London and Paul Richter in Washington

Comments () | Archives (82)

Swiss history includes the harboring of Nazis, the laundering of money, and thievery fcrom Holocaust survivors. Helping a child rapist evade prosecution does not shock their conscience.

David, are you Woody Allen?

I agree with the Swiss court's decision. This is a victory for Samantha Geimer, who has been victimized her entire life by the media and other hysterical vengeance seekers.

The LA District Attorney a known fool as well as incompetent.
With California sliding further and further into debt, you wold think that that office would have more pressing matters.

boycott swiss cheese!!!!

The dysfunctional and thus responsible entities are:

1. Polanski for not only having had sex with a thirteen year old girls, but having drugged her first.
2. The United States government for having allowed Polanski the opportunity to leave the country and then after that "error" not having doggedly pursued him with a vengeance.
3. France, because sex with a drugged child in that nation is apparently not a crime.
4. Switzerland, because they appear to hold the same view as the French.
5. The Vatican and it's vast world presence that has made child molestation a tolerated and protected activity by its priests and a sanctuary for Polanski should he decide to become a priest.
6. Every person in the world who approves the above mentioned behavior and who thinks that Polanski should not be prosecuted.


Polanski's entire life is disgusting. That he is skilled at making movies means no more than a mass murderer being a good painter, you know, like Hitler.

It is worth noting that the now grown victim in this case DOES NOT want him brought back for sentencing. She wants to be done with this. She has moved on and no longer wants the press or the legal system to chase after her.

I also am not excusing his behavior. But there was some serious misconduct by the DA and judge in the 70s that our current legal system refuses to address. To continue to waste taxpayer dollars on this case, especially when Polanski is not considered a danger to society, is a travesty. Spend our money on catching the people who are currently victimizing kids.

42 days served in a LA jail was sufficient sentencing according to the Swiss. WOW, that's awesome. The Swiss are only good for their hot chocolate.

The LA District Attorney is a fool as well as an incompetent.
Stop wasting my tax dollars.
Los Angeles has more pressing matters to deal with... stop grandstanding, if you want tp prosecute someone the name GW Bush comes to mind.

Don't forget he's a French citizen and drugging and having sex with 13 year olds isn't a crime in their country. Not the first time this happened either, won't be the last.

Hmm...if Polanski had been a Catholic priest, how would the Swiss have reacted?

I think the Swiss got it right as well. Now, can we finally stop reliving this drama, over and over again. The woman, she is a grown woman now, affected by this would like us all to move on. If we were truly a just society, we would do just that.

Somehow if he were Tom Delay's daughter--$500,000 staffer paid out of Campaign contributions--a Rep John Boehner contributor, or a SCOTUS corporation, he would have been ALSO exonerated.

N.B.: 162 countries out of 170 designated totally corrupt government and social institutions along with church and family.

I have written the Swiss Embassy expressing my outrage.Hopefully others will as well. Hiding a child rapist who was drugged is not a country I ever want to visit. I will never to buy any product, knowingly, manufactured there nor buy any Swiss agricultural products. I may not have much power, but many of us writing and boycotting will send a message. We don't support countries that protect child rapists. We don't support countries that don't honor extradition laws with the United States.

So... the Swiss and French are OK with children from other countries being drugged and raped by their citizens. Now we know.

If we ever have World War 3 the first thing we do is bomb those Nazi loving scumbags. They were scum in World War 2 and they're scum now.

The swiss hacks never intended to extradite Polanski. They waited until they thought no one was paying attention to the story, and found a lame excuse not to hand him over. It is really simple. It has nothing to do with the original crime of giving alcohol and drugs to a 13 year old girl, and orally and anally raping her. He plead guilty to that crime. The only thing left was the sentencing which he avoided by fleeing.

To say "leave him alone" because 1. he is a great director or 2. it has been so long or 3. his victim wants to put it behind her or 4. the judge promised him ... whatever, or 5. (excuse du jour) is the same as saying "the crime wasn't THAT bad was it? Read the case. Yes, the crime was that bad. To avoid punishment is a slap in the face of every 13 year old girl who has ever been molested or raped.

David, I totally agree with you. An unethical D.A. and a corrupt judge spelled the end of this case back in the 1970s. As for today, Cooley is just another right-wing Republican thug trying milk this long dead case for political advantage.

To be brutally frank about it, the rest of the world no longer respects American justice. While most Americans have already forgotten the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, the rest of the world hasn't, and while America was probably given the benefit of the doubt in previous extradition requests, clearly, this is no longer the case. The Swiss requested documents, and US authorities failed to deliver. Arrogance or sloppiness, you decide. The US justice system, once the envy of the world, is now in need of rebuilding it's reputation. Following proper procedure would be a good start.

As for Polanski, he may be free, but he's still a creep.

Hurrah this was such a ridiculous case in the first place

I'm absolutely delighted in how this has finally turned out. American cops and prosecutors ,...well guys, tough luck!! I hope that Roman will have a peaceful, long and further undisturbed life by the over-zealous and self-righteous American law-enforcement thugs. Get over it boys!

Ban him forever from this country, and vote out any elected officials that don't push to their last breath to get this scum back here for jail time. I don't care about Hollywood and their ultra liberal attitudes. rape a child, go to jail, period. He has been free long enough.

only a white rich man gets away with things like this. punks.

David , I'm sure you would feel the same for the poor Mr. Polanski if it was your daughter he had raped . So tell me how does it feel to be a supporter of pedophilia and a fan of a rapist ? Your wife , mother and daughters should be so proud !

In a land so dominated by concerns of stalking and abuse, you'd think the Hollyweird set would care about a rapist sliming his way out of it. I guess congress isn't the only group who doesn't want to crack down on pedophiles.

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