MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, AP
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that the country would refuse to detain and extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States.
The ruling upholds the decision of a lower court that was challenged by the justice minister, and closes the matter in Poland.
“Game over,” said Jan Olszewski, one of Polanski’s lawyers. “The case is definitively closed. We won in a fair struggle. We feel satisfaction.”
Polanski, 83, is wanted in the U.S. in a case involving sex with a minor that has haunted him for almost 40 years. He is subject to an Interpol warrant in 188 countries.
He has avoided extradition by traveling only between three countries. He lives in France, where he was born, and also has a home in Switzerland, which in 2011 rejected a U.S. request to extradite him. He has often visited Poland, where he survived the Holocaust, grew up and studied at a film academy.
Poland’s three-judge panel rejected a request by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro to overturn the extradition refusal, and upheld the decision made by a lower court in Krakow in 2015.
Ziobro said Tuesday that he accepted and respected the court’s ruling but also insisted that “proceedings concerning the sexual abuse of minors should be enforced consistently regardless of who committed the crime or when.”
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. In exchange, the judge agreed to drop other charges and sentenced him to prison for a psychiatric evaluation. Polanski was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again.
The judge then said he was going to send Polanski back to prison for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to agree to a “voluntary deportation.” Polanski fled from the United States before he was sentenced.
The U.S., which has been seeking to bring Polanski back before a court, asked Poland last year to extradite him.
Olszewski said Polanski has paid dearly for what he has done, with all the films that he was not able to make in Hollywood and the 40 years of stigma.
Polanski was preparing to make a film in Poland, but transferred it to France after Ziobro’s move. His lawyers said this was also the reason why Polanski did not travel to Poland to attend the funeral of another leading film director, Andrzej Wajda, in October.
Polanski will not comment on the decision, his lawyer in France, Herve Termime, told The Associated Press.
The justice minister revived the case in May, months after the conservative government took office. Ziobro argued that Polanski should be punished and that his celebrity status was the only thing shielding the Oscar-winning director from being extradited.
The lower court had argued that Polanski had served over 350 days of prison terms and house arrest in the U.S and Switzerland, which was more than the original U.S. verdict. It also said he would probably not get a fair trial in the U.S. if he were extradited.
Polanski won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film “The Pianist,” which he filmed in Warsaw, but he did not travel to the U.S. for the ceremony. He was nominated for his 1970s’ movies “Chinatown” and “Tess.”
Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.
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