Swiss Refuse To Extradite Roman Polanski

In a surprising rebuke to the United States, the Swiss have decided to block the extradition of filmmaker Roman Polanski on the curious grounds “that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request.” Putting aside that the reason is incomprehensible, the decision appears to affirm that there are two different systems of justice for celebrities and non-celebrities.

Previously, Justice Minister Widmer-Schlumpf insisted that extradition was needed to show that “[i]t is the rule of law and everybody is treated the same way, whether it is an ordinary citizen or a famous personality.” France and international stars, however, waged a determined campaign to block the efforts to punish Polanski for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

The Swiss seem to struggle to come up with some plausible reason for blocking the extradition given the fact that, while Polanski is no commoner, his crime is a common case of a fugitive avoiding jail: “Considering all the aspects of this case – and in particular the extradition request which is not satisfying as far as the presentation of the facts of the case is concerned and the principles of state action deriving from international public order – the extradition request has to be rejected.” That is a great deal of effort and many words to excuse an unprincipled decision.

Polanski, 76, has been under house arrest in his Gstaad chalet and can now leave his gilded cage.

Source: SwissInfo.

40 thoughts on “Swiss Refuse To Extradite Roman Polanski”

  1. Polanski is a truly nauseating, perverted “man”, and I use that term loosely.

  2. Watcher,

    I concur on your analysis in re “time served”. This could have been Polanski’s past, but it’s going to remain his present for a long time and at his doing.

  3. Woosty

    That might be the case in some courts– but in general or at least in some of hte cases I’ve seen, they tend to be a lot more hostile to such lines of action, especially if they have nothing to do with the case.
    Questions of character most often arise during “date rape” cases where it’s agreed upon by all sides that there was no (explicit) threat of force, and that sex did occur– which means the Jury really only has questions of character and believability to go on.

    But in this case, especially given the age of the victim, any attempt to explore her character would be shot down pretty much immediately– for one thing, as a minor it was rape because she could not give consent, full stop. Even if she’d written “I LUV YOU!” on her body and jumped into the hot tub, it still would have been polanski’s duty to refuse her.

    Not to mention at least to some degree, the culture has changed– trying to blame the victim is a far higher risk (even ignoring possible court sanction) with today’s juries than it used to be.

    The Ironic thing, the really ironic thing is that if he had returned, I doubt he would have spent much time in prison, if any. Given his age, notoriety, religion (given the rather large number of extremist groups in prison), holding him would be a fairly severe risk and retrying him would be an absolute nightmare. In away, by continuing to flee, he’s likely put himself in the position of looking over his shoulder and having his movements restricted for far longer than would have been the case had he just returned.

  4. Oh gosh, maybe this is Switzerland’s way of sticking it to Obama for having to open up the Swiss bank records and reveal which Americans are hiding money there.

  5. Watcher;
    “Today, if you even thought about trying that, you’d be sanctioned, and sanctioned pretty heavily by the court,…”

    no, sadly, I don’t think so…..

  6. Having worked with survivors of rape, the fact that the victim wants the case dropped is actually pretty easy to understand. From the very beginning the tactics of Polanski’s legal team was to blame her, essentially call her an opportunistic sl*t and other such methods of blaming the victim for speaking up. Today, if you even thought about trying that, you’d be sanctioned, and sanctioned pretty heavily by the court, but it was the 1970’s (which is a reason so many women were reluctant to cooperate in cases of sexual abuse– in many cases, the suspect would walk out to cheers and they’d face the fact that their reputation had been destroyed).

    It’s worse, given that actions of Polanski’s fans, such as Ms. Goldberg with her famous “it’s not rape-rape” comment. The movie respectively whitewashed Polanski and demonized her, and the publicity against her was odious and extensive– not quite to the level of a mob witness receiving the severed head of a horse in their bed as a warning to “shut up” but pretty close.

    For most involved in dealing with sexual abuse cases, this has been a deeply depressing event, reminding more than a few victims, forcibly, that the law does not apply to the rich and powerful, who will have no end of apologists fully prepared to demonize the victim.

    The only good news, is that should he ever be returned to California, there is ample case law that states it does not matter how he got there.

  7. I don’t see it as a two tiered system other than, a contract for specific performance.

    Now most folks can’t afford to run as long and as far as he did. Most can’t afford an attorney or a league of them….

  8. W=c,

    We need to be distracted that We the People no longer control this country that was bought lock, stock and barrel by We the Corporate.

  9. I had never heard that before, thank you Isabel Darcy for the explanation.
    I don’t know what to think about Polanski given that his victim has requested that the whole affair be dropped. I can’t imagine why he would be, at this time in history, with so much *&^$^&*^%%drecht going on, a priority.

    This is just bizarre and sensationalistic. What do we need divereted from this time?

  10. Woosty-the “star chamber” was the place where medieval and tudor English judiciary heard treason and other cases and pronounced sentences in London. It was called the “star chamber” because it had a blue ceiling painted with gold stars. Since the defendants for the most part were tortured and the judges pretty much delivered the sentence the monarch wanted, “star chamber” has the connotation of “trials” conducted in secrecy without the defendant present or able to produce evidence, etc.

    I agree with Prof Turley and others re: the incoherent “reason” for denying the extradition request. It’s nonsense. There was in fact a crime committed, Polanski admitted guilt and then escaped to Europe. I think that the girl was injured during the crime but I may be wrong. Seems pretty simple and straightforward to me.

  11. Mespo,

    Well, since you put it that way, I guess it ain’t so bad. However, I vehemently dislike the crime for which Polanski is avoiding punishment.

    Maybe he will slip up and go to a country that will snatch him up for US. I wonder too; where is the best anti-pedophile/torture crime country to which we chould invite Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Woo, and Polanski via a one-way all expenses paid vacation to jail?

  12. My answer to those responding would be:

    1 Yes, I am aware of several attempts at pointing out criminal behaviour by the US administration, not in the last by the intertubes,
    2 I am also aware of the fact that both political as media figures have intentionally downplayed the seriousness of alleged war crimes, see: .
    3 Whatever else is true, despite the legal obligations under both US and International law neither the Bush nor the Obama administration have shown any interest in the Rule of Law: and and .
    4 In no way am I suggesting what Polanski did should be ignored. But pointing out any double-standard in other countries while the US itself engaging in very, very serious crimes of which we may not speak, appears slightly odd.
    5 Considering the above I am amazed that a 40 year old rape invokes more anger then alleged war crimes which are considered “en vogue” in certain social groups today.
    6 Last, I did not mean to offend anybody so excuse me if I did.

    All in all, the fact the Obama administration is capable of ignoring the multitudes of demostrations that are willfully and vehemently calling for an independent criminal investigation into those alleged war crimes -I say it again WAR CRIMES!- speaks volumes to me in light of this article.

  13. I would be more sympathetic to the US wish to have Polanski extradited if our country were actually prosecuting clergy pedophilia and not in some cases helping the church to get its perpetrators out of the US.

  14. So, the neutral Swiss won’t send the old pervert back? What a shame. We save a million or so in tax payer dollars avoiding a prosecution even the victim doesn’t want; the ol’ perv’s effectively barred from the US and forced to look over his stooped, sinewy shoulder every day; and the Swiss add one more at-large creep to their sexual offenders directory. Where’s the downside? That he might make another rotten movie? I’ll take that chance.

  15. @FFLEO

    What a miseralble little coward.

    Are there no meaningful sanctions that the U.S. Government can impose against the Swiss for this?

    No more chocolate.

    The States can always do a little rendition and indefinite detention. I don’t think Polanksi would last more than a week.

  16. @ackbar

    That is story you tell is fiction but if you tell it enough times people start to belive it.

  17. Jill,

    “While it is true that we have a two tier justice system, that should make us want to work for justice instead of displaying docility in the face of evil.”



  18. I think it’s likely that Ackbar is correct on the extradition issue.

    The US government threw the case by refusing to provide evidence that met the standards for extradition. That the Swiss politely explained this does not make them protectors of a child rapist. Instead, we can look to the US government’s protection of the Catholic Church for a model of how our government is known to aid prominent abusers.

    Perhaps Polanski can visit the US with diplomatic immunity at some point in the future.

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