(Updated with remarks from Roman Polanski and a statement from L.A. County District Attorney) A Polish court today rejected a U.S. request to extradite Roman Polanski for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.”I find no rational answer to the question: what is the real point of the U.S. extradition request?” said Judge Dariusz Mazur Friday in Krakow. The judge also added that he believed the Oscar winning director had already served his punishment and that extradition would be a violation of Polanski’s human rights.
While not present in the court today, Polanski said later that, “I can breathe now with relief.” He added, “I pleaded guilty. I went to prison. I have done my penalty. The case is closed.” Not completely as the verdict can be appealed within the next week.
The ruling comes days before a new, Conservative government is seated and which was considered more likely to grant the request. “Our position on this matter remains the same,” said Shiara Davila-Morales of L.A. County D.A. Jackie Lacey’s office this morning.
The refusal of the court to grant an extradition request from U.S. authorities closes the latest chapter on a decades-old case that began with the Oscar-winning director’s conviction on five charges stemming from having sex with a minor. The then-43-year-old Polanski cut a plea deal and served 42 days in prison, but fled the States on the eve of sentencing when it appeared the judge in the case had moved the legal goalposts on him. He has been considered a fugitive from American justice ever since.
Polanski’s attorney Jan Olszewski told NBC News this week, “We are totally convinced about the groundlessness of the extradition request.”
Polanski has dual citizenship in Poland and France. While French law prohibits extradition of its citizens, Polish law does not. The latest attempts to have Polanski extradited were sparked in October last year when U.S. officials asked Polish prosecutors to question the director while he was in the country. He was eventually released, but U.S. authorities filed a formal extradition request in January this year in Poland where Polanski was working on a film about the Dreyfus Affair.
This was the latest in a series of attempts to bring him back to America. In 2009, he was placed under house arrest in Switzerland while a similar extradition request was examined. He was ultimately released after 9-months.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report