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Switzerland rejects US request for Polanski extradition

Swiss authorities have rejected a US extradition request for director Roman Polanski over a child sex case and the film-maker can go free from house arrest, the justice minister said Monday.

“The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA. The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told a press conference, reading from a statement.

“The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined,” she said.

The minister said that Bern had decided against extraditing the Oscar winner as it could not be excluded that Polanski had already served sufficient time in jail.

Polanski is alleged to have plied a girl called Samatha Geimer with champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor friend Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.

Switzerland had sought records that the judge in charge of the case had in a meeting on September 19, 1977 assured the parties that the 42 days spent by Polanski in a psychiatric ward was the entire jail term that he was condemned to.

But the US Justice Department turned down the request for these records, saying that a court ruling required that they be kept secret, the statement said.

“In these circumstances it is not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty that Roman Polanski has already served the sentence he was condemned to at the time and that the extradition request is undermined by a serious fault.

“Considering the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case, the request has to be rejected,” said the Justice Ministry in a statement.