Lawyers for and against the extradition of Roman Polanski are making their final pleas before a court in Krakow, Poland today as ongoing saga surrounding the Oscar-winning director, a fugitive from U.S. justice since 1978, enters what could be its final phase.
The court in Krakow is expected to rule later today whether to comply with U.S. demands to extradite Polanski to face charges going back nearly 40 years.
Polanksi will not appear in court today – “because of emotional reasons” his lawyer Jan Olszewski told the judge.
Whatever the ruling, both sides will have the right to appeal.
The Oscar-winning director pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. Polanski had originally been charged with six offenses including rape by use of drugs and sodomy against the then-teenager Samantha Geimer.
Polanski has been preparing a film he plans to shoot on location in Krakow about Alfred Dreyfus, the 19th century Jewish French military officer whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became a political drama until he was eventually exonerated.
Polish prosecutors have been cooperating with U.S authorities even though under Polish law the statute of limitation on the charges against Polanski long expired. Earlier, prosecutors said that if the Krakow court ruled the extradition inadmissible, the decision would be final. They had said that in the case the court ruled in favor of the extradition request, Poland’s justice minister would have to decide whether to approve it.
Poland’s new conservative government, run by the Law and Justice Party, has made it clear that it would support extraditing Polanski if the court so ruled.
Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said before recent elections that he “totally rejected” suggestions that Polanski
“should not be made responsible for his deeds because he is an outstanding, world-famous filmmaker.”
Public opinion in Poland, Polanski’s childhood country, has been mostly in favor of the director, who received Oscar nominations for Chinatown and Tess and won the Academy Award for best director in 2003 for The Pianist.
The Interpol warrant for his arrest is in effect in most of the world but Polanski is free to move throughout France, which does not extradite its own citizens, and Switzerland, which, in 2010, ruled not to send the filmmaker back to the U.S..