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Legal-fail: or, why the Swiss had to release Polanski

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Legal-fail: or, why the Swiss had to release Polanski

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thwack (by lj-user twoflower)
A Justice Department official said Monday the United States was "deeply disappointed" with the decision by Switzerland's Justice Ministry to free filmmaker Roman Polanski instead of extraditing him to America to face sentencing for unlawful sex with a child.
Asked about comments by the Swiss attorney general that suggested technical errors in the U.S. extradition request, Crowley said: "A 13-year-girl was drugged and raped by an adult -- this is not a matter of technicality."

From another source:
The United States failed to provide confidential testimony to refute defense arguments the filmmaker had actually served his sentence before fleeing Los Angeles three decades ago, Widmer-Schlumpf said.

My understanding of the matter, after speaking with someone who works in international law, is that the concern here is that Swiss law required that the US provide some evidence from the trial in '77, and was not complied with. As a result, their legal system required that Polanski go free rather than be extradited. Every person in the courtroom in Switzerland may have been thinking 'god what an evil whiny child-molesting rapist bastard'- but they were still beholden to their own law.

Am I pleased by this? Hell no; the bastard should serve the time, both for child molestation and for evasion of justice. The prosecution in this case- who've become awfully hard to find names for- are responsible for Polanski's freedom- not the Swiss. Additionally, it doesn't make me feel very good realizing HOW incompetent the prosecution of this case was: it's not as if Swiss law was some secret document that the prosecution couldn't read, nor is it as if the Swiss didn't plainly state 'we need this data to be able to extradite'. The prosecution is who you should be pissed off at, here- not Switzerland. All Switzerland did here was the equivalent of telling a cop 'Do you have a search warrant? If not, you can't come into my house'.

I'd figured this one would slide on some fine point of the law or other- I'd just figured that slide would happen inside the US. This is some pretty epically bad use of law- right up there with the folks defending Prop 8's case against gay marriage in recent 9th Circuit appeals court. Christ, maybe I should go into law. I couldn't do much worse than those two examples of idiocy.

    Seriously, just read the law and provide all the information rather than making a big flaily statement about how OMG CHILD MOLESTOR ought to be enough.
  • From all I can tell, when Switzerland agreed to detain Polanski- before he was even arrested- they informed the US that they needed access to this particular chunk of testimony. Surely, had the US been paying rational attention, they would've at the very least said at the outset 'we can't do this and here's why' in front of a press panel?
    Somebody ignored a page of a career-making (or -breaking) document- and is paying the price for it even as I type this, I don't doubt.
  • Legal-fail: or, why the Swiss had to release Polanski

    Its just shitty in general. I didn't hit my friends page until after posting my own take on it.

    I'm not a lawyer either but it's hard to believe you can lose an open and shut case like that. Doesn't help that they plea bargained it down almost to nothing 30 years ago.
    • Re: Legal-fail: or, why the Swiss had to release Polanski

      Down to what, 90 days if memory serves?
      He did still evade 45ish days of that, so he's hosed on not serving a ton if he gets into US custody.
      And I hope he winds up there: evasion of justice is BAD.
      • Re: Legal-fail: or, why the Swiss had to release Polanski

        90 days of inpatient therapy. He was released after 43 by his therapist, who said that Polanski wasn't a danger to reoffend. The judge in the case said that wasn't good enough and he'd have to serve out the rest of the 90 days in jail. Whereupon he bolted.
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