Both the U.S. State Department and the Los Angeles Country District Attorney lashed out Monday, July 12, concerning the Swiss government’s decision to brush aside its extradition request for movie director and cult icon Roman Polanski.
Accordingly, Polanski will not be extradited to the U.S. to face sentencing for a crime committed 32 years ago. The Swiss decision came as a blow to American authorities, and was based on a Swiss court’s decision that certain requested documents had not been submitted by the United States. In addition, Polanski maintained a home that he frequently visited.
Polanski, 76, who had admitted to drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old girl in California in 1977, was released immediately from electronic monitoring at his Swiss chalet in Gstaad on Monday.
The voracious American response came with indignation. The Swiss decision severely limits U.S. officials’ continued prosecution of the famous director.
“A 13-year-old girl was drugged and raped,” said State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley in a prepared statement to the press. “This is not a matter of technicality. To push this case aside based on technicalities we think is regrettable …. We think it sends a very important message regarding how … women and girls are treated around the world.”
A spokesperson at the Department of Justice, Laura Sweeney, lamented the Swiss decision as very disappointing:
“Whenever the United States seeks an individual’s extradition, we do so on the basis that our request is supported by the facts and the terms of our treaty,” Sweeney told a bevy of reporters. “That is true in this case as well. We believe the extradition request submitted by the United States was fully supported by the evidence, met the requirements of the extradition treaty and involved a serious offense.”
While U.S. officials fumed, senior government officials in France and Poland praised the Swiss court decision. Polanski holds dual citizenship in both countries. But, there was criticism from groups representing victims of sexual abuse.
In 1978, Polanski fled U.S. borders hours before he was to be re-sentenced for having unlawful sex with a minor. Although he had fulfilled the original provisions of incarceration and passed a psychological examination, the judge wanted to rescind his earlier decision. Polanski has never returned to the U.S. from his native country of France.
The director had been in Swiss custody for the last 10 months after police in Zurich arrested him on his arrival in the city to accept a lifetime achievement award at the local film festival. The arrest was performed at the request of authorities in Los Angeles.
In a similar celebrity extradition case, Bruce Beresford-Redman, who produced episodes for the reality television series Survivor, is fighting a Mexican extradition request where authorities have accused him of murder. Prosecutors want him to return to the country to face a charge of murder. Media attention has drawn intense scrutiny on how he was able to return to the United States shortly after the incident.
Monica Beresford-Redman’s body was found April 8 at the Moon Palace. According to Mexican investigators, Beresford-Redman’s wife showed signs of asphyxiation and evidence of a heavy blow to the right temple.
He returned to California in May, despite Mexican authorities confiscating his passport. He has since been charged with murder based on unspecified testimony by hotel employees and tourists.