Roman Polanski's second escape from American justice has left his pursuers tongue-tied.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's office is shocked by the Swiss government's decision early Monday not extradite the Oscar-winning director back to America. "This was totally unexpected," a source at the DA's office told TheWrap, "it hit us like a bomb."
L.A. district attorney Steve Cooley told the LA Times early Monday that he was was "genuinely
surprised and disappointed" by the Swiss decision. The D.A., whose run for California's Attorney General was attacked online by Polanski on May 2, said he would comment further later in the day.
Cooley's office has been seeking to return the 76-year old French-born director — who fled the United States on a Europe-bound plane out of LAX on Feb. 1, 1978 — to America since last year. Polanski 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.
L.A. D.A. spokesperson Sandi Gibbons said the office will not be commenting on the matter today and referred all query to the Justice Department.
In Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for public affairs Philip Crowley called the Swiss government decision “regrettable” and questioned the judge's ruling.
“I think the facts in the case are not in dispute," Crowley said. "The girl was 13, there was an adult, there was a rape or unlawful sex, whatever you want to call it. We think that's a crime, and that is why we have been pursuing this case over many, many years."
A spokesperson for Chad Hummel and the other members of the Polanski legal team said the lawyers, who have been arguing since last year that the U.S. government was not fully disclosing all relevant material and documents on the case to the Swiss, "are not commenting yet."
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