Swiss police arrested director Roman Polanski on Sunday for giving 13-year-old Samantha Geimer booze and quaaludes and then having sex with her back in 1977. Polanski famously lived in France to avoid being extradited for his outstanding American warrant, but when he showed up to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival, Zurich Police arrested him, saying the Swiss have an extradition treaty with the U.S. dating back to the 50s.
People are generally forgiving towards Polanski because A. His mother died at Auschwitz and the Manson family murdered his pregnant wife Sharon Tate. B. As detailed in Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (horrible title, btw), the judge and prosecution in the original case outlined some steps Polanski should take in order to make a plea deal, which Polanski then took, only for the judge to later renege on the deal when the media gave the impression that Polanski was out on bail acting like a carefree rich playboy. C. The victim has spoken out on Polanski’s behalf. And D. Let a player play, yo.
A complicated legal process awaits all sides as the United States sought to secure his extradition for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl and fleeing to France a year later. The Swiss Justice Ministry did not rule out the possibility that Polanski could be released on bail under very strict conditions that he doesn’t flee Switzerland. Polanski seems most likely to spend several months in detention, unless he agrees to forgo any challenge to his extradition to the United States. Under a 1990 accord between Switzerland and the U.S., Washington has 60 days to submit a formal request for his transfer.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped Polanski could be quickly freed by the Swiss, calling the apprehension a “bit sinister.” Polanski was “thrown to the lions,” said French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand. “In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face.” [Yahoo]
See why we make fun of you all the time, you snail-eating a-holes? Every time we’re about to feel bad for being dicks to you all the time, you do something like call us scary for thinking a convicted rapist should come to court. Damn you, you stuck up, rape-hating Yankees!
The Justice Ministry insisted Sunday that politics played no role in its arrest order on Polanski, who lives in France but has spent much time at a chalet in the luxury Swiss resort of Gstaad. That has led to widespread speculation among his friends and even politicians in Switzerland that the neutral country was coerced by Washington into action. Justice spokesman Guido Balmer said the difference during Polanski’s visit this time to Zurich was that authorities knew when and where he would arrive. The Alpine country does not perform regular passport checks anymore on arrivals from 24 other European countries. Balmer also rejected any hint that the arrest was somehow aimed at winning favor with the U.S. after a series of bilateral spats over tax evasion and wealthy Americans stashing money at Swiss banking giant UBS AG.
Polanski doesn’t seem to want to chance being sent to prison, but this time he might just want to take his chances with the U.S. Justice system. Plus I hear Swiss jail limits its inmates to three hot chocolates a day and only two hours of skiing.
Polanski has asked a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn a judges’ refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it. His victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.
Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza in Los Angeles dismissed Polanski’s bid to throw out the case because the director failed to appear in court to press his request, but said there was “substantial misconduct” in the handling of the original case.
So depending on the judge, it doesn’t seem like he’d get sentenced to much if any jail time if he returned to the U.S.