Swiss-Versus-L.A. Standoff In Polanski Case

Amid reports that Switzerland won't extradite famed director Roman Polanski until the fate of his sentencing in Los Angeles is clear, the District Attorney's office stated Friday that it won't make a move until Polanski's extradition is moved forward.

"At present, this rests with the Swiss courts,'' said D.A.'s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. It all sounds like a formula for deadlock in the three-decade-old case in which Polanski fled for France after serving 42 days of psychiatric evaluation for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The Swiss ministry of Justice said it wouldn't move on L.A.'s extradition request until it was clear the director could not be sentenced in absentia while he remains under house arrest at his Swiss chalet. (Tipped off by the D.A., Swiss authorities nabbed Polanski as he traveled there from France to accept an award last year).

There is still a possibility that the director's defense team will appeal a judge's ruling last month that Polanski cannot, in fact, be sentenced from afar. The possibility of the ruling being overturned apparently inspired the Swiss ruling this week to hold off on extradition.

What's more, Swiss authorities have said they will not extradite someone to the United States who is facing less than six months behind bars -- a distinct possibility in Polanski's case. (In December a California appeals court suggested that Polanski could be sentenced in absentia for time served).

The D.A.'s office seemed confused by Friday's reports out of Switzerland (Gibbons called them "somewhat conflicting"). So are we. At this point, it's not clear in whose court the ball exists. Although the D.A.'s office could always cut this 32-year-saga short by agreeing to sentence the director from afar for time (psychiatric evaluation) served -- a move endorsed by his now-adult victim.

However, it wouldn't be a popular move: Times have changed, and men convicted for similar crimes today often see as much as a year behind bars.


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