Roman Polanski Extradition Case: What Polish Election Result Means for U.S. Request

Roman Polanski

The Polish filmmaker won the Oscar for best director for his war film The Pianist in 2003. Though he wasn't physically present at the awards ceremony that year, presenter Harrison Ford accepted the award on his behalf.

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The victorious Law and Justice Party says the Oscar-winning filmmaker can expect a tough line under its rule.

Roman Polanski should face justice in America if a Polish court rules to agree to a U.S. extradition request Friday over a conviction for having sex with a minor dating back to 1977, the country's new governing party says.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's conservative Law and Justice Party, which swept to power in general elections held in the country Sunday, last week said the fugitive filmmaker could expect to be sent back to the U.S if the court rules to extradite him.

Kaczynski made Polanski's case a political issue in the final days of the campaign, stressing the party's line that all must be equal before the law. "There was open talk that he should not be made responsible for his deeds because he is an outstanding, world-famous filmmaker," Kaczynski said. "We will totally reject this attitude."

The remarks, last Tuesday, suggest there would be no leniency for the 82-year-old Oscar-winning director if the court refuses to accept his lawyers' argument that justice has long been served.

If the court rules against an extradition, the government would have no say. But under Polish law, if the court rules to extradite Polanski, the country's Justice Minister makes the final call on whether to honor that decision or not. Polanski's legal team has been lobbying officials to refuse the U.S. bid to bring him back to face charges of breaking bail nearly 40 years ago when he fled America fearing the collapse of a plea-bargain deal that could have left him facing a long time behind bars.

Lawyers had been trying to strike a deal giving Polanski immunity from legal action while he shot a film he is prepping in the southern city of Krakow based on the Dreyfus Affair, an infamous early 20th century miscarriage of justice case involving a Jewish French military officer.

Polanski, who was born in France but grew up in Poland, holds dual nationality. He is safe from U.S authorities in Paris, because French law does not allow for the extradition of its citizens.

The U.S case is based on the fact that Polanski fled the country after serving 42 days in jail in a plea bargain that guaranteed he would not face more than 90 days in prison. Details of the deal leaked to the press, leading the director — who won an Oscar in 2002 for The Pianist and has scores of other top international prizes including a Golden Globe in 1975 for Chinatown — to fear the judge would change his mind.

Polanski, who has attended a series of court hearings in Krakow since April, is due back in court Friday in a session that observers say may bring a decision on the extradition request.