"The Ghost Writer" director Roman Polanski is a free man after Swiss government, on Monday morning, July 12, announced that a request to extradite him to the U.S. for sentencing was rejected. However, the decision has invited outrage among L.A. county prosecutors and the U.S. State Department. According to Los Angeles Times, local and federal officials vowed to continue the pursuit of Polanski.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stated, "A 13-year-old girl was drugged and raped. This is not a matter of technicality. To push this case aside based on technicalities we think is regrettable." He continued, "We think it sends a very important message regarding how... women and girls are treated around the world."
Meanwhile, Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman at the Department of Justice which helps process extradition requests, said federal prosecutors are "very disappointed in the decision by the Swiss government."
"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 continued. "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."
Moreover, L.A. district attorney Steve Cooley believed that extradition will be sought if Polanski is arrested someplace else. He said, "I am deeply disappointed that the Swiss authorities denied the request to extradite Roman Polanski."
"Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements of the extradition treaty and requests by the U.S. and Swiss Departments of Justice and State," the district attorney added. "We will discuss with the Department of Justice the extradition of Roman Polanski if he's arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction."
Roman Polanski's case has been going on for nearly 35 years over having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with the girl and supplying her with champagne and Quaaludes during a photo shoot.
However, the night before his sentencing in 1978, Polanski fled the country because he feared the judge might send him to jail for 90 days. Polanski continued his life as filmmaker until he flew to Switzerland to pick up an award in September 2009, and California authorities seized the opportunity to seek his extradition.
Polanski only pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse, the remaining charges, including rape by use of drugs, sodomy and child molesting, are pending since Polanski was never sentenced. And now, because Swiss officials cannot rule out the possibility that there is a "fault" in the request, the extradition has been turned down. A spokesman for the Swiss Justice Ministry explained, "The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the U.S. extraditionary (sic) request."