Los Angeles and federal authorities are arguing about whose fault it is that Roman Polanski wasn't extradited. But some Swiss papers say their government was swayed by his wealth and fame.
According to his lawyer, Polanski is "happy with his freedom". He'll begin shooting the film version of the play God of Carnage, with European locations standing in for Brooklyn since the director can't actually travel there. But for those less than "happy" with this turn of events, the blame game has begun.
Swiss authorities say they refused to extradite Polanski in part because they were denied access to certain documents from his original trial. According to Linda Deutsch of the AP, the US Justice Department refused to supply the documents, but now the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office — which initially prosecuted Polanski in 1978 and wished to try him again — says it was never even notified of the Swiss request. Making matters weirder is the fact that a spokesman for the Swiss Justice Ministry said in April that the Ministry didn't even want the documents. If this all sounds like pointless bickering to you, you're not alone. Loyola University law professor Stan Goldman calls the dispute a case of people "pointing fingers at each other," and adds, "It's an embarrassment for the district attorney's office. It was they who were seeking to get Polanski back, and they have failed."
But is it really the DA's fault? Some Swiss newspapers have another take. According to Bradley S. Klapper of the Canadian Press, Switzerland has never before considered the actual merits of a case in rejecting an extradition request, preferring to evaluate only the technical aspects of the request itself. And some think this shift in policy is a sign of special treatment. Klapper quotes the paper Neue Luzerner Zeitung: "If the main character in this drama hadn't been Roman Polanski, but an unknown amateur actor, he would now be standing before a U.S. court." The paper also argued, "This was an admission that when higher interests are at stake, not everyone is equal before the law. Some are a bit more equal." Another newspaper, the Tages-Anzeiger, called the extradition decision "shaky" and said, "Perhaps the new practice will in the future also benefit detainees who have less of a lobby than the world-famous director." Perhaps — but as Klapper points out, Switzerland has long been "a safe haven for wealthy investors - and their declared or undeclared cash," and now maybe it's a safe haven for wealthy rapists as well.
Authorities Dispute Polanski Case Miscommunication [AP]
Swiss Papers Say Freeing Polanski Shows How Rich Get Special Treatment [Canadian Press]
Polanski 'Happy With His Freedom' [MSN UK]
Polanski Will Return To Work With God Of Carnage [Daily Express]