Roman Polanski Will Not Be Extradited to U.S., Polish Court Rules

Roman Polanski Polish Film Festival - H 2015
PKO Off-Camera Film Festival

The veteran director, who had been in Poland prepping a new movie, has been a fugitive since his 1977 child sex crime conviction.

On Friday, Roman Polanski escaped a U.S. bid to extradite him from Poland over charges dating back to the '70s.

A Polish court ruled that the law forbids Polanski's extradition to the U.S., with district court judge Dariusz Maxur in Krakow saying, “extradition is inadmissible."

The decision is not legally binding and prosecutors have seven days to appeal the decision.

Polanksi did not appear in court to hear the decision "because of emotional reasons," his lawyer Jan Olszewski told the judge. His current whereabouts are unclear, although earlier Friday there were unconfirmed reports that he had boarded a flight to Paris shortly before the court ruling was announced.

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 served 42 days in jail as part of his 90-day plea bargain, but on release before final sentencing, he fled the country for France, believing that the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and impose a longer prison sentence. He has been a fugitive from U.S. justice ever since, despite multiple attempts to extradite him over the years.

The director, known for such films as Chinatown and The Pianist, late last year lost his latest bid to have a California court dismiss the case.

Polanski has been preparing a film he plans to shoot on location in Poland 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 limitations 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, had made it clear that it would extradite Polanski if the court so ruled.

The court adjourned an earlier hearing in April, with the judge saying he needed access to additional documents before ruling on the case. The judge requested documentation from U.S. authorities and a Swiss court which, in a similar case in 2010, decided there was insufficient evidence to extradite the director.

Polanski had earlier said he would cooperate with the Polish authorities. He added: "I trust the Polish judiciary system. I hope everything will be all right."

The court ruling means that Polanski, who was born in France but also holds Polish citizenship, is now safe to stay in Poland. France, where the director lives, has an extradition treaty with the U.S., but does not extradite its own citizens. The Swiss ruling means Polanski is also safe to live and travel there as well.