Swiss to Polanski: You're not going anywhere

Roman Polanski lost a bid today to get released on bail pending adjudication of an extradition to the US to face charges of … bail jumping.  Apparently, that irony was not lost on Switzerland, which deemed him a flight risk and refused to consider alternate means of securing him before the extradition process.  That means Polanski will spend at least the next several weeks in jail:

Roman Polanski lost his first bid to win his freedom Tuesday as the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected an appeal by the director to be immediately released from prison, an official said.

“We continue to be of the opinion that there is a high risk of flight,” said ministry spokesman Folco Galli, explaining the decision.

Galli told The Associated Press that the risk was too great for the government to accept bail or other security measures in exchange for the release of the filmmaker who is wanted by U.S. authorities for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

The extradition process could take months, the Associated Press reports.  That’s another irony in itself, as Polanski likely faced no more than six additional weeks in prison when he skipped in 1977.  The judge in the case had already informed Polanski that he didn’t have to abide by the sentencing recommendation of the prosecution in the plea deal, which Polanski acknowledged in court, but at most the judge would have forced Polanski to serve out the entire 90-day psychological observation period rather than the 42 days served.

International outrage by cultural elites in the US and France have done nothing to dissuade the Swiss from proceeding with the extradition process, either.  Critics of the arrest have backed down from accusations of illegality on the part of Swiss authorities, and it appears that the extradition treaty with the US makes it likely that they will hand Polanski to the US at the end of the process.

At this point, Polanski might do better to waive an extradition fight and get to the US as quickly as possible.  Spending months in a Swiss prison just to serve another several months in the US is a questionable strategy for a 76-year-old fugitive.  He’d be more likely to get lenient treatment, and if nothing else would save himself a few months in jail.

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