Polish court rejects Roman Polanski extradition

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Court rejects request to send Polanski back to U.S. in underage sex case

He fled the United States in 1978

CNN  — 

A Polish court rejected Friday the extradition of film director Roman Polanski in a decades-old underage sex case.

Judge Dariusz Mazur called the extradition request “inadmissible.”

“The court’s assessment is that it would be would be clearly connected with unlawful deprivation of freedom, taking into account time needed to transfer the extradited person to United States, which is probably several months, at least several weeks, possibly in difficult and unsuitable conditions for an elderly person,” Mazur ruled.

U.S. officials have been seeking Polanski returned for decades, insisting that he be held to account for illegally having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He was 43 at the time.

He pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors that included dropping more serious charges, but fled before he could be sentenced after learning the judge in the case might impose a more strict sentence than he had been expecting.

Authorities in Canada, France, Israel, Thailand and Switzerland have previously declined to turn him over to U.S. authorities.

Polish officials agreed to consider his extradition after he traveled to Poland to attend a museum opening in Warsaw. He is also working on a film in Poland, where he grew up.

Even if the court had recommended Polanski’s extradition, under Polish law, the country’s justice minister would have ultimate authority to decide.

Polanski, 82, was accused of giving his victim champagne and part of a Quaalude tablet before having sex with her during a 1977 photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s house. The age of consent in California in 1977 was 18.

He was charged with six felonies, including rape and sodomy, but prosecutors dropped those charges in a plea bargain that saw Polanski plead guilty to illegally having sex with a minor.

The victim, who years ago identified herself as Samantha Geimer, has publicly forgiven Polanski and has urged that the matter be dropped.

“Every time this case is brought to the attention of the court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others,” Geimer said in court papers filed in 2009. “That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of the case.”

But U.S. officials have insisted that Polanski return to the United States and submit to the justice system.

Polanski won an Oscar in 2003 for his film, “The Pianist.” He also received Academy Award nominations for “Tess” and “Chinatown.”

CNN’s Antonia Mortensen contributed to this report.