Roman Polanski Is a Free Man; Swiss Government Won't Extradite Him
The Swiss mostly blamed US authorities for failing to provide confidential testimony about Polanski's sentencing procedure in 1977-1978. The Justice Ministry also said that national interests were taken into consideration in the stunning decision.
"The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA," the ministry said in a statement. "The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked."
Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime said the director was still at his Swiss chalet in the resort of Gstaad, where he has been held under house arrest since December.
Switzerland's top justice official said he could now leave. "Mr. Polanski can now move freely. Since 12:30 today he's a free man," Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared.
Polanski was was initially accused of raping a girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation and sodomy, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. The filmmaker fled the US on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was to be formally sentenced. He has lived since then in France, which does not extradite its citizens.
His victim, Samantha Geimer, now in her 40s and a married mother of three, had called for the case to be tossed out several times in the past. Geimer, who long ago identified herself, sued Polanski in December 1988 when she was 25 years old, alleging sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seduction. Polanski and Geimer reached a $500,000 settlement in October 1993, according to documents recently released in Los Angeles. She has since forgiven him.
The case resurfaced when Polanski was apprehended Sept. 26, 2009, as he arrived in Zurich to receive an award from a film festival. Authorities in Los Angeles consider him a convicted felon and a fugitive.
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