Film director Polanski avoids extradition | Film | DW | 30.10.2015
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Film director Polanski avoids extradition

Possibly closing a case which lasted almost a year, a Polish court rejected the extradition of the filmmaker Roman Polanski. He was convicted for having sexually abused a child in 1977 and is wanted in the US.

A final hearing in Polanski's extradition case took place on Friday (30.10.2015). The court ruled that Polanski's "extradition is inadmissible." The judge explained that although the case is complicated, an extradtion procedure would be a violation of human rights because Polanski could be subjected to confinement.

The filmmaker did not not show up at the hearing, "for emotional reasons," according to one of his lawyers, Jan Olszewski.

The famous film director ("The Pianist," "Chinatown," Rosemary's Baby") had already been convicted in 1977 for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old model during a photo shoot. At the time, he had served 42 days of a 90-day sentence under a plea bargain. After his release, he fled to France, fearing the judge would come back on the decision with a harsher punishment. Polanski has lived there ever since.

Roman Polanski in court in Krakow, Copyright: EPA/JACEK BEDNARCZYK

Roman Polanski with his lawyers at a hearing in February

Wanted in the US

When the film director traveled to Krakow in October 2014 to prepare a movie in Poland, the US filed a warrant to arrest him. The first hearing was held in February 2015 and the case was extended to obtain the necessary paperwork for an extradition.

The verdict is not legally binding, as the prosecutors can appeal the decision. If the US does successfully appeal, the current political climate in the country could make an extradition of its famous citizen likely.

Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski PIS, Copyright: Imago/Eastnews

PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski pleads for Polanski's extradition

The newly installed government has indicated there will be no leniency for the filmmaker. Poland's right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), which won a parliamentary majority during the country's elections last weekend, condemned Polanski during its campaign: "There was open talk that he should not be made responsible for his deeds because he is an outstanding, world-famous filmmaker," Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the party, told the Associated Press. He insisted that his party would totally reject this attitude if it came to power.

Safe from arrest in France

Polanski had already risked extradition in 2009, when he went to a film festival in Switzerland, but he was eventually allowed to return to France.

The now 83-year-old film director holds French and Polish citizenship, and French law forbids the extradition of its citizens.

The filmmaker has been nominated for an Oscar as best director three times. He won in 2002 with "The Pianist," but did not collect the award himself.

The film Polanski now plans to shoot in Poland ironically tells the story of an infamous miscarriage of justice, the Dreyfus Affair, which was a great scandal in France at the turn of the 20th century.

eg/gb (AP, AFP)

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