Prosecutors vow to chase Polanski down if he's arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction
The Swiss might have said “Non,” but Los Angeles prosecutors haven't finished pursuing Roman Polanski … not by a long stretch.
“We will discuss with the Department of Justice the extradition of Roman Polanski if he’s arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction,” L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley said on Monday of further plans to arrest the “Chinatown” director.
Polanski, a French national, was detained at Zurich airport on Sept. 26, 2009, on the request of U.S. authorities seeking to extradite him for raping and sodomizing an underage girl in 1977. Fearful of a vengeful judge and further imprisonment in jail, Polanski fled American justice in a flight out of LAX in 1978.“
Earlier Monday, the Swiss government announced that they would free the 76-year from house arrest and deny the US’s extradition request. "In particular,” the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Peace said in a statement early July 12, “the extradition request … is not satisfying as far as the presentation of the facts of the case is concerned.”
Roger Gunson, who prosecuted Polanski in 1977 for the rape of the then 13-year old girl, gave testimony under seal in January to be used in the event that he was unable to appear in court due to bad health. Polanski's lawyers wanted to open the testimony, claiming that it would reveal judicial misconduct back in the 1970s and since.
The lawyer stated that the US legal authorities were providing the Swiss authorities with "false and materially incomplete" information. On May 10, 2010, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza rejected the defense lawyers' request, and the testimony remained sealed.
That wasn’t acceptable to the Swiss under either the spirit or the letter of the extradition treaty between the two nations.
Which is why Roman Polanski, who was been under house arrest in his chalet since December, is free and won’t have to get on a flight back to LA anytime soon.
That’s a decision the district attorney thinks is not only incorrect, but also foolish.
“To justify their finding to deny extradition on an issue that is unique to California law regarding conditional examination of a potentially unavailable witness is a rejection of the competency of the California courts.” Cooley said Monday. “The Swiss could not have found a smaller hook on which to hang their hat.”
A representative for Roman Polanski’s legal team said the lawyers had no comment.