Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski is facing a fresh attempt to extradite him to the U.S. in connection with his 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Poland’s government has decided to appeal a court’s decision in October to deny a U.S. extradition request. Prosecutors had previously said they would not challenge the court’s ruling.
Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister and prosecutor general, said on Tuesday, “I’ve decided to file to the supreme court an appeal over the ruling … in which the … court decided not to extradite Mr. Polanski to the U.S. in a situation when he’s accused of and wanted for … a rape of a child,” the Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Polanski, who holds dual French-Polish citizenship, has an apartment in Krakow, in southern Poland, but spends most of his time in France, the country where he was born.
A judge in Krakow ruled last October that Polanski could not be extradited from Poland because it could jeopardize the octogenarian director’s human rights by exposing him to possible confinement. In a statement at the time, he said he had already paid the penalty for his conviction, an apparent reference to the 42 days he spent in jail before he fled the U.S. in 1979.
Although prosecutors had said they would not challenge the ruling, the leader of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party, which is now in government, said last fall that Polanski should be extradited, in order to demonstrate that the rich and famous did not receive special treatment in the Polish legal system.
Polanski has said he would like to shoot a film about the Dreyfus Affair in Poland, but only if he did not face the threat of extradition. The lead producer on the project is France’s Robert Benmussa, who said the budget would be €35 million ($37.1 million). The film, which is based on Robert Harris’ novel “An Officer and a Spy,” would be an international co-production made in English with English and American actors, Benmussa said.
Polanski’s closest brush with being sent back to the U.S. as one of its famous fugitives came in 2009, when he was arrested by Swiss authorities in Zurich, where he had gone to pick up an award. He was jailed for two months, then allowed to remain under a form of house arrest in his chalet in Gstaad while authorities weighed the U.S. government’s extradition request. In July 2010, the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police rejected that request.