A court in Poland ruled Friday that the law forbids the extradition of filmmaker Roman Polanski to the U.S., where he pleaded guilty nearly four decades ago to having sex with a minor.
The decision by a judge in Krakow could close the case in Polanski’s favor, providing the U.S. does not appeal it.
But an appeal — if successful — could make an extradition likely, because the new Law and Justice party government to be installed in November has indicated there would be no leniency for Polanski, as it makes a point of applying laws strictly and equally to all.
Judge Dariusz Mazur said the case is very complicated but an extradition procedure would violate the human rights of the 83-year-old Polanski because he could be subjected to confinement
Polanski’s attorneys argued Friday that the U.S. request has legal flaws and said the filmmaker already served a prison term under a deal with a Los Angeles judge.
“This is not about justice or the interest of the victim,” attorney Jan Olszewski said.
The Oscar-winning Polanski was in Krakow on Friday but did not appear in court.
The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of statutory rape for having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric study at a state prison, where he served 42 days.
Lawyers have said they understood from a private conversation with the judge that the time in prison would be Polanski’s punishment, but they said the judge later suggested Polanski would go back to prison, at which point he fled to France.
The Polish court’s verdict is subject to appeal within seven days
Polanski is a celebrity in Poland, and public opinion in his childhood country has been mostly in his favor. He won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film “The Pianist” and was nominated for 1974’s “Chinatown” and 1979’s “Tess.”
Polanski’s movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries, but he is avoiding extradition by remaining only in France, Poland and Switzerland.