Switzerland, at least, has made its judgment: Roman Polanski is a free man.
After many months of house arrest, the justice ministry of Switzerland has denied the extradition request and released the filmmaker, citing two factors. The first: The U.S. failed to send over records from a January hearing about how the original judge agreed that Polanski had served the "whole term of imprisonment he was condemned to." The second: The ministry noted that after many years traveling in and out of Switzerland, he arrived there last September in "good faith." Though his name was on the list of wanted people in the Swiss registry, the authorities had never before acted on that.
I can't speak to the failure to send hearing records, but the second factor in the ruling is just silly, further exemplifying the privilege that goes with being a successful and respected filmmaker. If the authorities failed to pick Polanski up on any of his earlier travels to Switzerland, then that it something to deal with separately. Once again, if you ignore who this is and look at the scenario, it would be utterly ridiculous to hear that someone on the registry of wanted persons was released because he hadn't been arrested on previous trips. But it's no surprise. It's how much of the Polanski issue has played out.
At this point, it seems likely that no matter what news continues to bubble forth about Polanski, neither side will give in and this particular Hollywood controversy will not get a neat, wrapped-up ending.
The statement, via NY Times Arts Beat, is below.
The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA. The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked. This announcement was made by Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), in Berne on Monday. The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined. Moreover, also the principles of State action deriving from international public order were taken into account.
At the end of 2005 the US authorities issued an international search warrant against Roman Polanski due to sexual offence against a minor committed in 1977. On the basis of this international order of arrest, Roman Polanski was arrested on 26th September 2009 upon his arrival at the airport of Zürich and taken into provisional custody pending extradition. On 22nd October 2009 the US authorities filed a formal extradition request. On 4th December Roman Polanski was released from custody after depositing a 4.5 million franc bail and was granted house arrest under electronic monitoring in his chalet in Gstaad.