July 12, 2010
Posted: 09:52 AM ET
by Nick Cumming-Bruce
Switzerland will not extradite the film director Roman Polanski to the United States to face charges of unlawful sex with a minor because of a possible fault in the American application for his extradition, Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told a news conference on Monday.
“He’s a free man,” she said.
Mr. Polanski was arrested on an international warrant issued by the United States on charges dating from 1977. The director fled on the eve of sentencing in California because of fear that the presiding intended to renege what his defense lawyers said was a deal to avoid a prison sentence.
Ms. Widmer-Schlumpf said the American authorities had rejected a request by her ministry for records of a hearing by the prosecutor in the case, Roger Gunson, in January 2010, which should have established whether the judge who tried the case in 1977 had assured Mr. Polanski that time he spent in a psychiatric unit would constitute the whole of the period of imprisonment he would serve.
“If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the U.S. extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation,” the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement.
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