Poland’s Supreme Court upholds refusal to extradite Polanski

Roman Polanski is wanted in the US over underage sex case. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Roman Polanski is wanted in the US over underage sex case. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Poland’s Supreme Court confirmed a refusal to detain and extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the US if he enters Poland.

The ruling upholds the decision of a lower court that was challenged by the justice minister, and closes the matter in Poland.

“Game over,” said Jan Olszewski, one of Polanski’s lawyers. “The case is definitively closed. We won in a fair struggle. We feel satisfaction.”

Mr Polanski, 83, is wanted in the US in a case involving sex with a minor that has haunted him for almost 40 years and he is subject to an Interpol warrant in 188 countries.

He has avoided extradition by travelling only between three countries. He lives in France, where he was born, and also has a home in Switzerland, which in 2011 rejected a US request to extradite him. He has often visited Poland, where he grew up and studied at a film academy.

The three-judge panel rejected a request by justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro to overturn the extradition refusal, and upheld the procedure and decision taken by a lower court in Krakow in 2015.

The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. In a deal with the judge, he served 42 days in prison, but then fled the US, fearing the judge would have him imprisoned again for much longer.

The US, which has been seeking to bring Mr Polanski back before a court, asked Poland last year to extradite him.

Mr Olszewski said Mr Polanski has paid dearly for what he has done, with all the films that he was not able to make in Hollywood and the 40 years of stigma.

“You can hardly imagine a heavier punishment” for a filmmaker, Mr Olszewski said.

Mr Polanski was preparing to make a film in Poland, but canceled his plans after Mr Ziobro’s move. His lawyers said this was also the reason why Mr Polanski did not travel to Poland to attend the funeral of another leading film director, Andrzej Wajda, in October.

Mr Polanski would not comment on the decision, his lawyer in France, Herve Termime, said.

The justice minister argued that Mr Polanski should be punished and his celebrity status was the only thing shielding the Oscar-winning director from being extradited.

The lower court had argued that Mr Polanski had served over 350 days of prison terms and house arrest in the US and Switzerland, which was more than the original US verdict. It also said he would probably not get a fair trial in the US.