Monday, September 28, 2009

Famous fugitive finally found!

My apologies for the desperately poor alliteration, it must be the beer. Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland. All we've had thus far is uproar from supporters and well-wishers, including some famous people and some politicians, such as France's Interior Minister Bernard Kouchner.

Have I missed something? He pleaded guilty to underage sex (with a 13-year-old girl), was remanded on bail for a sentencing hearing, and decided he'd rather do an extended Grand Tour of Europe than an extended custodial stretch, if it's all the same to you, Your Honour.

The intervening period, and alleged about face on a plea bargain may well give rise to some good article 6 points, especially in light of American "fugitive provisions" about appeals, but why on earth wasn't he arrested before? His location has never been a secret, so why now? Have the Americans really being trying their utmost to nick him for 30+ years, only to be foiled on every occasion by some dastardly cunning?

7 comments:

  1. Michael from New YorkSeptember 28, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    It is astounding that public figures in France would express support for Polanski and 'outrage' at his arrest. I get it -he is a French citizen and lives in France- which, unlike the UK and Switzerland- does not have an extradition treaty with the US. But think this through- he was arrested and PLEAD GUILTY in 1977 TO 1 COUNT OF HAVING SEX WITH A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL, who was an aspiring model who had a photo shoot with Polanski in Jack Nicholson's hot tube. Polanski was indicted on 6 felony counts including rape, sodomy and giving controlled substances to a minor. After a 42 day psych evaluation he thought he might get some jail time- so he fled the US and has been a fugitive ever since. Is the "outrage" because keeping the law at bay for 31 years is supposed to give a confessed pedophile a 'get out of jail' free pass and it didn't?! Polanski consciously avoided the US, UK and other countries with extradition treaties with US- is this behavior to be rewarded? I understand how laches, stale claims and the implied waiver that a failure to prosecute would lead a reasonable person to believe authorities no longer sought them- but a post guilty plea, pre-sentencing hearing flight from the jurisdiction isn't the same thing. It was not the best way for Polanski to handle the case. In California he could have even appealed his own guilty plea- which has the same effect as a conviction after trial. He also knew he was getting a good deal by brokering a plea instead of going to trial on the 6 indictments! He broke the deal...now he should do his sentence...in light of the fact that he has proven himself to be a risk of flight from the jurisdiction- it should be a custodial (in jail) sentence... back in 1978, in California, it would likely have been probation. No tears from me for a pedophile finally brought to justice- even if it does put a damper on the release of his newest film, The Ghost. Maybe it is poetic justice that this specter has appeared now.

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  2. You can't try your utmost to arrest every criminal all of the time. It is just not possible. 30 years does seem a bit long granted but who the hell cares? He knows he is wanted, his actions demonstrate that he intended to evade justice indefinately. He is finally arrested but somehow that raises more questions about the justice provisions than the fact that he didn't bother to accept his sentance. Now in custody and the only person to blame is Polanski.

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  3. Can it be a coincidence that the Swiss were recently leaned on by the USA over banking secrecy? Perhaps a small but embarrassing tit-for-tat. It will be interesting to see exactly who soft-pedaled on Polanski's warrant - but my guess is the whole thing will get brushed under the carpet long before we get to find out.

    rogerh

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  4. Aaron - the point I was making was simply that they wouldn't have needed to try their utmost to arrest him, a semi-competent person with an internet connection could have found him easily. He's been shooting feature films on a fairly regular basis, and he's a high-profile bloke. Magazines always managed to find him for interviews, so why couldn't the USA, with all its money, law enforcement, unmanned drones, spies, nuclear weapons, etc. etc.?

    I'm struggling to see something in the timing, though. Banking laws might be a bit of a stretch, he did live there, but he's a French citizen, not a Swiss one.

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  5. I get your point. As awful as his crime is - it's not something that is going to get the CIA involved. He has been careful not to return to the USA or countries that have a good extradition link to USA.

    They have to rely on other law enforcement agencies doing their jobs. Sadly, few of them saw fit to do so.

    I'm no sympathiser with the USA but what are they supposed to do without support from people who have a duty to arrest Polanski.

    I too struggle with the diplomatic pressure angle.

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  6. This is what I mean. Are you really saying there was a Europe-wide conspiracy to not arrest Polanski, shared amongst ALL of the law enforcement agencies, just to spite the US for some unspecified reason?

    I think that's stretching it a little, no? What's more likely; Americans see he's gone off to Europe, (which might as well be the moon for the majority who never leave their home state) and leave him alone "out of sight out of mind", OR... the conspiracy to keep Polanski at large and annoy America?

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  7. OK, not the Swiss and not the French - which leaves the USA. But why dredge up this old case? I can see no political reason, so what else.

    Perhaps Polanski made noises about going home and the US said sure-thing....

    rogerh

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