After several months spent in detention and under house arrest in Switzerland, Roman Polanski was released. The Swiss government refused to extradite him to the USA. This ended the long hunt for the famous film director, which the US authorities started 32 years ago. Hopefully that will close the bizarre case, which has been dragged for such a long time.
In 1977 Polanski was accused of raping the then 13-year old Samantha Geimer in the house of Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. The director was alone with her for a photo shoot. For the record, there is no doubt that what he did was horrible, inexcusable and despicable. However, the way the US authorities treated this case made everything look really strange.
Although he was initially indicted on several felony counts, the judge allowed him to plead guilty to only one count of unlawful sexual intercourse. The judge dropped the other charges and handed him a 90-day prison sentence with mandatory psychiatric evaluation. The person who conducted the evaluation released Polanski after 42 days with the opinion that he was not likely to repeat the same offence. The judge obviously didn’t like that and stated that he was going to send Polanski to jail again for the remaining 48 days and ask him to accept voluntary deportation from the USA after that. One day prior to the sentencing Polanski left the country.
Ever since that happened, the authorities in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have been trying to get Polanski extradited to the USA. That was impossible while he lived in France, which doesn’t extradite its citizens. They got their break when Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on the old warrant.
Was that arrest and request for extradition worth the efforts? No, it wasn’t. And here is why:
Polanski didn’t flee the country after committing the crime. He appeared in court and was tried for it. The judge found it sufficient to sentence him to 90 days. Even if we accept the reversal of his decision, which will put Polanski in jail for 48 days, does that justify all the expenses for that case?
Of course, there are people who have expressed their opinions in forums and comments that “the scumbag” should be brought to the USA to rot in prison for life, that the USA must bomb Switzerland or stop all foreign aid for that country (what an ignorance!) etc., etc.
However, will it be that easy to have a new trial? Let’s see: Polanski was already sentenced for what he did. Wouldn’t charging him again with the same case put him in double jeopardy? Surely there will be plenty of lawyers, who will be glad to use that and drag the case for years, thus forcing the taxpayers to foot the prosecution’s multi-million dollar bill.
There is no new evidence in the case. The psychiatrist who evaluated Polanski was right, he never committed such offence again. He even settled with Samantha Geimer few years ago and now she supports the dismissal of the case.
An interesting and obviously crucial piece of evidence that the Swiss wanted to receive in order to make up their minds was a confidential testimony given by Roger Gunson, the Los Angeles attorney in charge of the original prosecution, on January 26 of this year. For some unknown reason the US authorities didn’t want to fulfill the request. It is hard to imagine that they would ignore the extradition rules of Switzerland. Maybe they secretly wanted to get away from that mess?
And, really, don’t they have more important things to do? The state of California is bankrupt. There are millions of illegal aliens who don’t pay taxes, yet take advantage of billions of dollars of financial aid. Why doesn’t the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office direct its meager resources to catch the killers, robbers and rapists, who are terrorizing people right now? Is it wise to chase somebody who committed a crime over 30 years and was sentenced, in order to get him to spend 48 days in jail? That may sound nice and just, but only if you don’t consider that in the process they will spend millions of other people’s money.
Has the state gone mad?