US holds back reaction to Polanski release

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The United States declined to comment on the decision by Swiss authorities to release fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski instead of extraditing him to the United States.

"The department declines comment," was the only reaction from the Justice Department in a statement to AFP.

Earlier Monday, Switzerland rejected a request to extradite Polanski to the United States to answer for a child sex case dating back more than three decades.

Some 10 months after Polanski's dramatic arrest, Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the decision came after the US justice department failed to provide records of a hearing in which Polanski claimed his case had been settled and sentence agreed.

"Considering the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case, the request has to be rejected," she said.

After his arrest last September, the 76-year-old Polanski was initially confined to prison before being bailed on 4.5 million Swiss francs (3.0 million euros, 4.5 million dollars) and ordered to surrender his passport.

The France-based director was also not allowed out of the grounds of his 1,800 square meter (19,400 square foot) property in the ski resort of Gstaad and fitted with an electronic bracelet.

The director admitted plying 13-year-old Samatha Geimer with champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot at the Hollywood home of actor Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.

Polanski served 42 days at a secure unit undergoing psychiatric evaluation but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing in 1978 amid fears that the trial judge planned to go back on a previously agreed plea deal.

© 2010 AFP

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