Switzerland's Ministry of Justice announced that it would not extradite director Roman Polanski to the U.S. to face sentencing for child sex charges, but L.A. district attorney Steve Cooley said Monday (July 12) that extradition will be sought if Polanski is arrested someplace else.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Swiss authorities denied the request to extradite Roman Polanski," Cooley said in a statement released to MTV News. "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."
CNN reported earlier that the 76-year-old director was set free after his arrest last year; the case has been going on for nearly 35 years. At the time, Polanski pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and supplying her with champagne and Quaaludes during a photo shoot, but the director fled to Europe before his sentencing. In exchange for his guilty plea, rape and other charges were dropped at the time.
Although Polanski pleaded guilty to the one count of unlawful sexual intercourse, the remaining charges are pending since Polanski was never sentenced.
"We only formally request when we are notified by a government that the fugitive is in their country," Cooley said in the statement. "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."
Cooley adds that countries that won't release Polanski to the U.S. for sentencing are doing a "disservice to justice and other victims as a whole. 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."