Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski faces a new extradition challenge from Poland to the United States. Well, in theory.
In reality the new Polish government announced on Tuesday it would be challenging a Court ruling made in October 2015, days before it came to power. Polanski’s extradition in connection with a sex conviction in the United States is seen as an opportunity for the PiS government to show its moral credentials, just as the Minister of Justice has appropriated the office of the Public Prosecutor against the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Polanski was “accused of and wanted for … the rape of a child.” The prosecution of Polanski is, according to the Prosecutor-Minister, a “litmus test” that no one is above the law.
Polanski’s lawyer said the minister’s move was expected. However, in substance the question faced by the Polish court was not Polandski’s guilt or innocence, but the question of extradition. In any event, the Polish minister knows full well that Polanski is in France, where he cannot be arrested by police authorities because he is a French citizen. Other states with strong extradition are also no-go areas for Polanski.
Polanski has admitted the sexual assault case, calling the 13-years old girl a double victim, of himself and the press. Speaking to the BBC in 2013, his victim Samantha Geimer described the experience as non-consensual and rape. However, she also said that prolonging the ordeal was harmful to her family as a whole, including her children and her husband.
For his crime, Polanski spent 42 days in prison after his initial arrest in 1977. He then was allowed to flee overseas and has not returned to the United States for over 40 years.
Polanski was in Krakow in 2014 to shoot a film, when he was arrested. He was later released in October 2015. Poland can now choose to make it impossible for Polanski to visit his country of birth. The move threatens the shooting of a film about the Dreyfus Affair in Poland, based on a Robert Harris novel “An Officer and a Spy.” That would not be the first time the case weighs on Polanski’s career. In 2003, Polanski was unable to collect his best-Director Oscar Award for The Pianist.
(BBC, PAP, TVN24, Variety)