Swiss let Roman Polanski go free

By Lucy Morris, July 12, 2010
Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

The Swiss Justice Ministry has rejected an extradition request from the United States for Roman Polanski.

The Polish-born Holocaust survivor fled America in 1978 after being charged with the drugging and rape of a 13-year old model.

Mr Polanski, 76, who is an Oscar-winning director, famed for "Rosemary’s Baby", "Chinatown", and "The Pianist", was arrested on the way to collecting a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival in 2009.

After posting a £2.8 million bail, Mr Polanski was released from Swiss prison and allowed to stay within the grounds of a Swiss chalet in Gstaad.

Although he was convicted of the rape of a minor in 1977 there has long been speculation about Mr Polanski’s sentencing. Laurence J Rittenband, the now deceased judge who heard the case, had privately agreed with lawyers to a sentence of a 90-day psychiatric study.

However, Judge Rittenband later decided against this and increased Mr Polanski’s sentence. It was at this moment, in 1978, that Mr Polanski fled to France.

After the director's Swiss arrest many supporters, such as Woody Allen and British director Stephen Frears publicly spoke out and signed a petition against the US sentencing and call for extradition.

Last updated: 2:28pm, July 12 2010