Polanski 'could beat' extradition
Published 13/02/2010 | 05:00
ROMAN Polanski's new film premiered in Berlin yesterday as Swiss authorities pledged not to extradite him to the US.
Swiss legal authorities ruled that the film director could stay put as long as his appeal on a sex case was still being considered in Los Angeles.
Compared to the last four months being under arrest in Switzerland, it was a win-win.
Mr Polanski could not walk the red carpet at the Berlin film festival last night for the debut of his movie 'The Ghost Writer', starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, because he is under house arrest.
But he was still the star of the party, feted by the movie's actors, producer and screenplay writer.
And in a new twist to his long legal saga, the Swiss justice ministry declared it would make "no sense" to shift Polanski from house arrest at his Alpine chalet until US courts ruled definitively that he must be sentenced in person to further jail time for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
"When the question is still open, why should he be extradited?" Rudolf Wyss, the ministry's deputy director, said. "As long as the question is still open, our decision depends on that."
"Even if we decide on extradition, he can still appeal. This would take many months,"he added.
Mr Polanski's extradition is a complicated and diplomatically sensitive decision, as it deals with a three-decade-old case full of alleged wrongdoing by a LA judge, a confused sentencing procedure and the director's own flight from justice.
He is a cultural icon in France and Poland, where he holds dual citizenship.
Mr Polanski's lawyers say the 76-year-old filmmaker served his full sentence in 1978 when he underwent a court-ordered diagnostic study at a California prison for 42 days.
Los Angeles courts have disagreed and Polanski's lawyers have promised to appeal in their hopes to have him sentenced in absentia or have the case dropped. Swiss legal experts said it looked increasingly possible that the Oscar-winning director could beat extradition."The chance has increased, especially as he's been here for such a long time," said Dieter Jann, a former Zurich prosecutor. "It's not even clear if the Americans want him anymore."