Poland said that it will challenge a 2014 court decision not to extradite the 82-year-old filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States. Reuters reports that Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said in an interview on Tuesday that he will appeal the court’s decision and seek Polanski’s extradition.
In 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with five counts related to the assault of then 13-year-old Samantha Gailey, including rape. The Polish-born director pled guilty to lesser charges in 1978 and, prior to formal sentencing, fled the United States for France. Polanski has since remained in France where, along with Poland, he holds dual citizenship, and continued to direct numerous films.
The U.S. requested Polanski’s extradition from Poland in 2014 after the director made a public appearance in Krakow. The Polish court declined to hold Polanski for a lack of evidence. But since that 2014 hearing, the political tides of Poland have shifted drastically. The country is now run by the Law and Justice Party, a socially conservative right-wing party that formerly had close ties with the Catholic Church and opposes abortion and gay rights.
Ziobro has been a vocal critic of the 2014 decision and the newly appointed minister has publicly stated that Polanski’s celebrity has effectively kept him out of jail all of these years. “I’ve decided to file an appeal in the supreme court against the ruling... in which the... court decided not to extradite Mr. Polanski to the U.S. in a situation when he’s accused of and wanted for... a rape of a child,” Ziobro told Poland’s state radio. He added:
“If he was just a regular guy, a teacher, doctor, plumber, decorator, then I’m sure he’d have been deported from any country to the U.S. a long time ago.”
Polanski’s lawyer told TVN24, a Polish television network, that the minister’s announcement had been “anticipated.” He emphasized to that the court would only be considering extradition, not guilt or innocence. For their part, however, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office seems pretty clear on that whole guilt and innocence thing, reiterating, as they have done for nearly 40 years, that Polanski is a fugitive.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the director is currently working on a film about the Dreyfus Affair which is co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.
Image via AP.