The Oscar-winning director is still very much wanted and desired by American prosecutors. Just less than three weeks after a LA Superior Court judge rejected attempts to close the book on Roman Polanski’s statutory rape conviction from the late 1970s, the U.S. has asked Poland to hand over the director.
“We are not going through the motions on this,” a source close to LA County DA Jackie Lacey’s office tells me. “We are determined to see Polanski appear in an American courtroom and face American justice.” Officially, the DA’s Office has no comment on the matter, according to a spokesperson.
However, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s office in Warsaw said the valid extradition request will be passed on to local prosecutors in Krakow to take next steps. “Prosecutors will want to summon Polanski for questioning,” Polish Prosecutor-General’s office spokesman Mateusz Martyniuk told Reuters today.
The Polish-born and French-based Polanksi is in Krakow preparing to shoot a new film. The director of Chinatown and The Pianist was last questioned by Polish authorities on the 1977 rape in October, but the 81-year-old director was released. At that time, Polish authorities said they saw no reason to arrest him.
Convicted on five charges stemming from having sex with 13-year old Samantha Gailey on March 10, 1977, the then-43-year-old Polanski made a deal that saw him plead guilty to having unlawful sex intercourse with a minor. However, after feeling the judge in the case had moved the legal goalposts on him, Polanski in 1978 fled the U.S. and the near certainty of a prison stretch. He has fought extradition from Europe repeatedly since, most recently in a prolonged case in 2009 and 2010 when Steve Cooley was LA County DA.
This time, with a formal extradition request, it might not be so easy for Polanski to walk away. While the dual citizen Polanski has been able to escape extradition before because France will not hand over its citizens to the U.S., Poland takes a more case-by-case approach.