The Polish Supreme Court rejected a request from the U.S. government to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski over a 1977 conviction for raping a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski is a duel-citizen of Poland and France. He resides permanently in France, which does not extradite its own citizens. Therefore, even a ruling favoring the U.S. government would have had little effect. The panel of three judges concluded that a lower court followed the correct procedure is assessing the Polish government’s request to extradite him.
The move to extradite Polanski was instigated by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, a law and order conservative of the right-wing Law and Justice party. The party assumed power one year ago promising to catalyze a moral revival in the predominantly Catholic country. Polanski planned to return to Poland to pursue a pending project, but cancelled the trip when Ziobro announced his intentions to seek his extradition. The justice minister argues his celebrity status is the only thing protecting Polanski from facing justice. (RELATED: Supreme Court Returning To Normal In Post-Election World)
“If he was just a regular guy, a teacher, doctor, plumber, decorator, then I’m confident that he’d have been deported from any country to the U.S. a long time ago,” he said on Polish state radio.
Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with 13-year-old Samantha Gailey at the home of Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. He served a 42-day prison term. He then fled the U.S., fearing the court could impose a more stringent sentence.
His lawyers take issue with that characterization.
“Mr. Polanski didn’t flee, as it is believed,” his lawyer, Jerzy Stachowicz, has argued in court. “He simply bought a plane ticket, checked in his luggage and boarded a plane. It was not fleeing.”
He also reached a settlement in a civil suit with Gailey in 1993.
The ruling allows Polanski to return to Poland at his leisure.
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