Swiss Authorities Free Director Polanski

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Swiss government has rejected a request by the United States to extradite director Roman Polanski.

Polanski, 76, pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles, California courtroom to having sex with a 13 year old girl in 1977; but he left the U.S. before sentencing, and has been a fugitive ever since, according to the Associated Press.

The award-winning director's work has been overshadowed by his personal life. He won Academy Awards for "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown," and, most recently, for 2002's "The Pianist" - but was unable to attend the recent ceremony due to the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

He was to appear in person to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Zurich Film Festival in Switzerland in 2009. He was arrested on an international warrant, jailed, and later released in Switzerland under house arrest, according to the New York Times.

In a decision issued on Monday, the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police announced it had ruled against the U.S. extradition request, based in part on the U.S. government's refusal to release certain case records.

According to the Times, the Swiss were seeking additional details about Polanski's 1977 sentence: he had served time in a psychiatric hospital in California, which Swiss authorities said may have constituted his entire sentence, according to the terms set by a U.S. judge.

"If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the US extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation," Swiss authorities wrote in a statement.

Without the documents proving otherwise, they said, there was no basis to keep Polanski in custody. According to the AP, Swiss authorities removed his monitoring bracelet on Monday.

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