Polanski set free, Cooley responds

District Attorney Steve Cooley said this week that although Switzerland refused to return Roman Polanski to California for sentencing, extradition will be sought if the fugitive is arrested elsewhere."I am deeply disappointed that the Swiss authorities denied the request to extradite Roman Polanski," Cooley said in a prepared statement. "Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements of the extradition treaty and requests by the U.S. and Swiss Departments of Justice and State. "We will discuss with the Department of Justice the extradition of Roman Polanski if he's arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction," the District Attorney added. Five Los Angeles County District Attorneys - John Van de Kamp, Robert Philobosian, Ira Reiner, Gil Garcetti and Cooley - approved extradition of Polanski after the filmmaker fled sentencing in February 1978. Polanski was indicted in March 1977 on six counts - furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, committing a lewd or lascivious act upon a child under the age of 14, having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, rape by use of drugs, perversion and sodomy on a person. Although he pleaded guilty to the one count of unlawful sexual intercourse, the remaining charges are pending since the defendant never was sentenced. Cooley took issue with a statement that the District Attorney's Office had failed to file a formal extradition request prior to 2009. "We only formally request when we are notified by a government that the fugitive is in their country," Cooley said. "The request was filed immediately by this office after the Swiss notified us of Polanski's expected arrival at the Zurich film festival in September 2009." Failure to extradite Polanski for sentencing is a "disservice to justice and other victims as a whole," the District Attorney said. "To justify their finding to deny extradition on an issue that is unique to California law regarding conditional examination of a potentially unavailable witness is a rejection of the competency of the California courts. The Swiss could not have found a smaller hook on which to hang their hat." Contributed by the L.A. District Attorney's Office.

********** Published: July 15, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 13