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Roman Polanski Released


Following a legal battle that began almost a year ago at the Zurich Airport en route to the Zurich Film Festival, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has been released from legal limbo that has kept him under house arrest in Switzerland, and will most likely be back in France by later this week.

Switzerland announced earlier today that it will not extradite Roman Polanski to the United States, where the film director faces charges of unlawful sex with a minor over three decades ago. He has been under house arrest in Switzerland since last Fall.

The reason being given in the press is that the United States failed to supply all the necessary documentation for the Swiss authorities, including supposed memos from the judge in the sensational earlier case that promised a quick resolution without a major jail sentence. "Without the necessary documents, we cannot hold him or extradite him", Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared at  a paparazzi-packed news conference.

The furor over Polanski's fate was discussed in the film trade press over the past several months, with many leading film directors from around the world publicly declaring their solidarity with the 77 year old director. It has been suggested that the California authorities who were looking to try Polanski for leaving the country in 1977 were using the high profile case for their own personal vendetta and to create a high profile in local elections for their positions this November.

While Polanski will almost certainly return to Paris, where he has lived and worked for over 30 years, he still is vulnerable to be extradited to the United States if he visits other European or Asian countries, who do have treaties with the US on the matter. It also precludes the possibility that the aged director will ever return to work or live in the United States, where he had his major celebrity with such landmark films as ROSEMARY'S BABY and CHINATOWN. Polanski is also linked to the infamous Manson Murders of 1969 that claimed his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, among others.

What the personal and professional future holds for Polanski is uncertain, but tonight he is a free man once again.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor




Swiss authorities on Monday said they will not extradite Roman Polanski and that the director, wanted in the U.S. on a 1977 charge of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, is now a free man.

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said that her office had decided not to extradite Polanski and that he could leave the country. Swiss police arrested Polanski last September on request from U.S. prosecutors. After two months in jail police transferred him to his chalet in Gstaad where he remained under house arrest until today.

If Polanski crosses the border to his native France, he will be outside the reach of U.S. authorities as France does not extradite its own citizens.

The ruling is a shock to many who had expected Polanski would be returned to the U.S. to face justice after decades on the lam.

The Swiss said a key »

- By Scott Roxborough Hollywood Reporter


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