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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)

I'm with you, Steve.
ANYONE who thinks 42 days in the psychiatric ward of a jail is sufficient payment for the rape of a 13-year-old girl should ask them if it would be payment enough if it was their sister or daughter.

This man was and still is a pedaphile. He has been very fortunate to not have more of his sordid past come to light. He didn't stop being a pedaphile after this horrible incident.

That man has paid some through the years but it is not enough. The judge and prosecutor in the case botch this from the beginning cutting Polanski a special deal and then revising it when the public outcry became to much for both the judge and prosecutor to handle -- that's when the sweatheart deal for Polanski as negotated was falling apart. Being released after the 42 days - he split before a possibly revised sentencing - different than negotiated could happen.

So, he has paid some - and hopefully will never be able to come on US soil. There has to be many days throughout the years that he has sene the disguest in people's eyes who know him as the criminal he is. For that he pays. His name is forever tainted. Does he live well - yes - as long as he's careful where he travels. Maybe we willl get lucky and he'll make a future mistake as OJ did, LOL. (hopefully no one hurt in the process).

The guilty rich and famous and powerful most of the time does. And do they protect each other - yes. They never know when they may need protection too for their nefarious and wrong deeds.

This does look bad for LA court system for the second time.

This guy needs to be jailed...

Even if the judge changed his mind and planned on lengthening his sentence, he had an attorney who advised him of all of the legal ramifications that went along with accepting a plea bargain...He may have had a good civil case against his attorney for not fully disclosing the judges options and he probably could've opted for a jury trial, but he fled the country instead...His legal options are over until he's in custody and he's facing a new judge in the US...

I wouldn't be surprised if he was rolled up in a carpet and sent back to the US via Fed Express...

Isn't there a statute of limitations? If not, there should be. Miserable though his conduct may be, Polanski did not kill anybody.

Nice to see the Swiss don't think the whole world revolves around Americans.
America does have influence (like causing the recent recession because of corrupt and morally bankrupt wall street) but morality is hardly on their side. Bravo to the Swiss.

to GoBear58: Polanski has already done time in prison. As far as we know, he has not done anything illegal since then, not like serial predators who are doing time in jail and once released....they do it again! What about the misconduct of the L.A. judge and prosecutor in 1978? That's why the requested documents by the Swiss were never submitted. Why the L.A. judge wanted Polanski to do another 90 days?? Can we get the transcript from the court? Cannot ask the judge since is long dead. Don't think the US judicial system is the best in the world.

No wonder there are so many Swiss pedophiles roaming the world, especially in Asia. They know that their so-called neutral country will let them commit these crimes with impunity.

I cannot believe that any sane government wants to waste energy in a case that initilly not even wanted to be begun by the victim who has forgiven him totally. Have you every heard enugh is enough. Will letting him off now have any impact other that to destroy those two people??

I promise Never to see any actor that works in a Roman Polanski film..I support
a boycott of this sleaze and his actors from now on.
I trust the U.S. State Department put's the Swiss Gov., where they belong
in blue cheese.

Get a life people! NO ONE cares about this ancient case, least of all the one victimized by it! The L.A. DA wants a political coup - that's all they ever want. He doesn't really care either, except to look good so he can run for office. We need to get off this bloodthirsty vengeance trip and worry about our own business.

Polanski is a pedofile who raped a 13 year old girl, then fled the country to escape ANY punishment for his crime. How is it that the Swiss and the french and Hollywood, for that matter, can so easily forgive him.

And please David, lets not gloss over Polanski's actions as simply "behavior" let's call it how it is, "drugged, then anally raped a scared little 13 year old girl"

Polanski's crime and cowardice was only rewarded by the french. Send him back to answer for his crimes!

"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 . . ."

The ultimate criminal charge is not simply "having sex with a girl" but the statutory rape of a minor. Does the LA Times have some sort of agenda here?

WHAT ABOUT THOSE crappy catholic church priests???????????????????

I love the Swiss logic here. He did not expect to be caught in Switzerland, so he should stay free.

In 1960, the Israeli spy agency Mossad, sent a team of agents to Argentina to snatch notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and bring him back to face trial. That's what should happen to Polansky. He should not be allowed to walk around freely.

Let's see Gunson's testimony. Why was it not provided to the Swiss courts? What is the US government hiding?

"The Swiss got it right."

Based on what argument? You're taking a group who just released a child rapist at their word? The department said they complied fully with the requests they were sent, but you believe a group who set free a child rapist over that.

The so-called "neutral" Swiss are far from that. They were Nazi sympathizers during WWII, and treated Allied airman who landed their disabled aircarft there like POWs, while the Germans had freedom to move about as they pleased.

It's no wonder this is how they treat a convicted pervert.

Let's see if anyone tries to compel Swiss officials to testify in a US court over their actual shielding of an actual convicted child rapist. (vs. the baloney innuendo against the Pope)

My money is on the money.

Seems like retaliation for the IRS forcing the Swiss government to hand over information regarding Americans suspected of using Swiss banks to evade taxes. They love their bank secrecy over there!

This case was never about justice it was about a prosecutor using the headlines for a higher job. Roman served his sentence but we now know not only was the prosecutor corrupt but the Judge and the cops. The victims explained how she was told what to say by the cops. Now even if Americans are stupsid and love to see fake charges and headlines the rest of the World doesn't have to be that stupid. Roman had every right to file charges against the LA legal system. We look to keep pushing as much dirt as possible and it wasn't enough with Tiger or Kobe we just love spreading as much dirt and lies as we can the truth doesn't matter.

Was this really about finding justice for a decades-old rape charge, or was it about pulling Polanski's chain for daring to suggest (in "The Ghost Writer") that Tony Blair dragged the UK into invading Iraq because of his special CIA connections? Surely it was just the rape, and not some crazy conspiracy theory involving the State Department, the Los Angeles DA, the CIA, and Tony Blair all covering up over the origins of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, right?

Polanski is a Pedophile and a Coward. The Swiss are just cowards. There goes that new Rolex, the trip to Bern or even the Swiss cheese I was buying this weekend. Since it's about money for the Swiss, they won't get any of mine.

Cooley cooked up the idea to nab Polanski as an attempt to burnish his credentials in his campaign to become CA AG this fall. (He went after the pot clinics for the same reason.) Just another grandstanding politician playing to his base, as well as a typical ugly American thinking the US rules the world. And the fact that he got the idea to go after RP from an HBO doc certainly says a lot, in a that's-so-LA kind of way.

Time to wake up and smell the Swiss mocha latte, dude.

When will children be allowed to be children?

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