BERN, Switzerland —The Swiss government declared
renowned film director Roman Polanski a free man after rejecting a U.S. request
to extradite him on a charge of having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
Swiss mostly blamed U.S. authorities for failing to provide confidential
testimony about Polanski’s sentencing procedure in 1977-1978.
stunning decision could end the United States’ three-decade pursuit of
Polanski, unless he travels to another country that would be willing to
apprehend him and weigh sending him to Los Angeles. France, where he has spent
much of his time, does not extradite its own citizens, and the public scrutiny
over Switzerland’s deliberations may dissuade other nations from making such a
Swiss government said it had sought confidential testimony given on 26 January by
Roger Gunson, the Los Angeles attorney in charge of the original prosecution
against Polanski. Washington rejected the request.
in Los Angeles and Washington cannot appeal the Swiss decision. Sandy Gibbons,
a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, declined
Oscar-winning director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” ”Chinatown” and
“The Pianist” was accused of plying his victim with champagne and
part of a Quaalude during a 1977 modelling shoot and raping her. He was
initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child
molesting and sodomy, but pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual
exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence him to
prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. However, he was released after 42
days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend
again. The judge responded by saying he was going to send Polanski back to jail
for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to
agree to a “voluntary deportation.” Polanski then fled the country on
the eve of his 1 February 1978, sentencing.