Poland makes new bid to extradite Polanski to US

Last Updated 31 May 2016, 13:05 IST
Poland launched a fresh bid today to extradite Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski to the United States to face sentencing over a 1977 case of statutory rape.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced he has appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn an October ruling that Polanski should not face extradition, saying no-one should be above the law.

"He is accused of a terrible crime against a child, the rape of a child," Ziobro, who is also prosecutor general, told Polish public radio.

"Were he a teacher, a doctor, a plumber or a painter, I'm sure any country would have extradited him to the United States long ago."

The announcement appears to be part of what the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government, which took office after October elections, touts as a moral revolution in strongly Catholic Poland.

Polanski is still wanted by the United States for sentencing over the 1977 statutory rape of Samantha Gailey after a photoshoot in Los Angeles.

He was arrested after Gailey, now Geimer, accused him of forcing her to have sex after drugging her.

She was 13 at the time. Polanski was 43. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence.

Jerzy Stachowicz, a lawyer for the 82-year-old French-Polish director, told AFP that Ziobro's decision was not a surprise.

"We were expecting this. Ziobro had previously announced he was going to do this," he said.

He also confirmed that "Polanski is currently not in Poland", without disclosing his current whereabouts.

Ziobro's move is an attempt to reverse an October ruling by a court in the southern city of Krakow which ruled that Polanski should not be sent to the United States, a decision prosecutors agreed was "justified".

"Had Poland accepted the US extradition request, it would have violated the rights of Mr Polanski and at the same time, the European Convention on Human Rights," judge Dariusz Mazur said at the time.

The Krakow court was fiercely critical of the original US investigation into the filmmaker's case, saying the US judges and prosecutors had flouted "the rules of a fair trial".

And one of his lawyers at the time said the decision "ends the legal proceedings" against Polanski.

The Polish Supreme Court can either uphold the decision not to extradite Polanski or send the case back to a lower court.
(Published 31 May 2016, 13:05 IST)

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