WARSAW, Poland – Poland will not extradite Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski to the U.S. in an almost 40-year-old case after prosecutors declined to challenge a court ruling against it.
Prosecutors in Krakow, who had sought the extradition on behalf of the U.S., said Friday they found the court's refusal of extradition to be "right" and said they found no grounds to appeal it.
Polanski's lawyer, Jan Olszewski, told The Associated Press that Polanski's reaction was of "great relief" and of "satisfaction". Polanski spoke to his lawyer over the phone from Paris, where he lives with his family.
The decision by the prosecutors closes the case in Poland and means Polanski, 82, is free to reside and work in Poland, where he grew up and studied filmmaking, and where he is preparing to make a new movie. Preparations for the movie were stalled by the extradition request that the U.S. made last year.
The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. In a deal with the judge, he served more than a month in prison, but then fled the U.S. fearing the judge would have him imprisoned for much longer. The U.S. has been seeking to bring Polanski back and put him before a court.
A judge in Krakow ruled last month that Polanski's extradition is inadmissible, saying that the U.S. trial was not fair and that Polanski would not face a fair trial there.
The Krakow prosecutors said in a statement they agreed with the court's reasoning.
Among other issues, the court and the prosecutors named violation of Polanski's right to defense, "unethical" discussions between the judge and only one side of the case, informal instructions to the judges, intentional destruction of some of the documents in the case and loss of some others and excessive sensitivity of the judges to criticism in the media.