Should the Swiss have sent Polanski back to California?
The Swiss government's decision not to allow Roman Polanski to be extradited to Los Angeles has (predictably) rankled U.S. authorities, and The Times' editorial board has ladled on another helping of outrage. But Polanski has no shortage of defenders, some of whom argue (as does Polanski) that L.A. Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's sudden attempt to arrest and extradite the filmmaker was politically motivated.
Regardless of what you think of the filmmaker (and admitted child molester), there's an interesting issue here about the rule of law and the role of the Swiss, who have studiously cultivated their reputation as secret-keepers. If Los Angeles authorities really did double-cross Polanski and renege on the deal that led him to plead guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 (a 13-year-old girl whom he'd been charged with drugging and raping), should he be able to contest his treatment in a neutral forum? Or does the fact that he's a fugitive who fled the country before he could be sentenced mean that he has to come back to Los Angeles to make his case?
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-- Jon Healey
Photo: Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP/Getty Images