With pretty much everyone resigned to the notion of Roman Polanski being extradited to the U.S. very soon and almost certainly doing time for a few months for having had unlawful sex with a minor 33 years ago, Swiss authorities have manned up and told the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to suck it — no Polish sausage for you to taunt, humiliate and kick around. Too bad, assholes!
For RoPo is a free man this morning. Probably on a train or a plane back to Paris as we speak. Hardcore Polanski coddlers need to gather in bars this evening and raise a few glasses. The Blue Meanies and Twisted Sisters have been cold-cocked, and the whole matter is finally over and done.
The Swiss offered two reasons for their decision. One, they “blamed U.S. authorities for having failed to provide confidential testimony about Polanski’s sentencing procedure in 1977-1978.” And two, they cited “national interests.” What, someone suggested they might face adverse consequences of some sort if they extradited Polanski? This is way too vague.
What a great way to wake up on a Monday morning! The idea of the pitchforkers — the Big Hollywood team especially — being all purple-faced and swearing and punching their refrigerator doors over this matter is almost too delicious to contemplate.
I’m not joyful over the world now being a safer place for foul men who might want to take advantage of children — that’s not what this is about.
This is about the fact — in my head, at least — that the LA District Attorney’s office had totally forgotten about Polanski for the better part of 30 years, and had only engineered Polanski’s arrest Zurich and the Swiss extradition request because they became agitated by Marina Zenovich‘s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, which reminded that the application of LA justice had been (and might still be) corrupt, political, ego-driven and obstinate in the face of damaging facts.
This is also about the Swiss doing something they’re not exactly known for — i.e., acting like men.
“The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA,” the ministry said in a statement sometime around noon today. “The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked.”
Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime said the director was still at his Swiss chalet in the resort of Gstaad, where he has been held under house arrest since December.
“Mr. Polanski can now move freely,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared. “Since 12:30 today he’s a free man.”
From a HuffPost summary: “Approving extradition had seemed the likeliest scenario after Polanski was arrested on Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival. Polanski had also suffered a series of legal setbacks this year in California courts.
Widmer-Schlumpf said the decision was not meant to excuse Polanski’s crime, saying the issue was “not about deciding whether he is guilty or not guilty.”
In a 9.2.09 Newser piece, Michael Wolff explained the basics.
“Prosecutors ignored Polanski for 30 years because it was a terrible case in which the prosecutor’s office and the sitting judge, in the interest of getting publicity for themselves, had conducted themselves in all variety of dubious ways. But then, last year, a documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, came out detailing all this dubiousness. So the first motivation for going after Polanski now, as it so often is with prosecutors, is revenge — Polanski and this film makes the DA look bad.
“The second is that the documentary reminded everybody that the LA prosecutor must be turning a blind eye to Polanski, wandering freely in Europe — hence the arrest now is the prosecutor covering his ass.
“The third is — and it’s curiously the success of the documentary that made the LA prosecutor’s office realize the brand name significance of the case — press. The headlines now sweeping the world are the prosecutor’s ultimate benefit. Many careers are suddenly advanced.
“It could tell us quite a lot about the real motivations and real interest in Roman Polanski in the LA prosecutor’s office, about the sudden enthusiasm for Polanski’s capture and the convenient timing of it, if we just got the date and time — Polanski’s lawyers can certainly get this information through discovery requests — when they began to Google him, and when they set up the first alert.
“Among all media whores, there is none so greedy and mendacious as a prosecutor.”
In a brilliant 10.1.09 piece called “The Roman Area,” Phil Nugent wrote the following:
“Polanski may be a sleazeball, but nobody thinks he’s a menace to society — one big difference between then and now is that nobody working for his prosecution can seriously think they’re working to prevent him from doing this again — so the spectacle of his detainment and possible future prosecution can only appeal to that lizard part of the brain that thinks that the justice system has nothing to do with protecting society and everything to do with punishing those we disapprove of.
“This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about how much of your pity you want to lavish on monsters. It’s about whether, in a country with the largest and most overcrowded prison system in the world, we want to apply any practical considerations at all to who goes and stays into a cell or if we just want to use the system to luxuriate in our capacity for blood lust.”