Swiss Refuse to Extradite Polanski
By Paul Van Olson
The 30-year flight of Roman Polanski from the legal consequences of the statutory rape of 13-year-old Samantha Jane Gailey in 1977 took another surprising turn on July 12, 2010, when the Swiss Ministry of Justice announced it would not extradite the aging auteur to the United States to face sentencing for the crime to which he had confessed. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared that the Swiss government took no position on the charges against Polanski or the course of the legal proceedings from which he had fled, but rejected the extradition request because the U.S. Department of Justice had not provided all the legal records which the Swiss Ministry of Justice had requested and because Polanski had in fact had a reasonable expectation that he would not be arrested as a fugitive when he entered Switzerland in September 2009.
The U.S. Department of Justice expressed disappointment over the decision. "We are deeply disappointed," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer "We thought our extradition request was supported by the facts. We're going to review our options." Unfortunately, it is not clear that the U.S. Department of Justice has many options: Swiss Justice Minister Widmer-Schlumpf declared that the 76-year-old Polanski was now free, having been released in December on a $4.5 million bail, and the U.S. could not resubmit its extradition request on the charges currently outstanding against Polanski, although, she noted, the U.S. could attempt to extradite Polanski from other countries through which he might travel.