Roman Polanski released

Swiss authorities say the director will not be extradited to the US.

by Jennie Kermode

33 years ago, Roman Polanski was accused of raping a 13 year old girl. Last year, after decades in exile, he was arrested whilst visiting the Zurich Film Festival. This morning he was freed by a Swiss court after the decision was made not to extradite him to the US.

According to the Swedish Justice Ministry, this unexpected decision relates to technical problems with the drafting of the US extradition request. This follows the US government's refusal to allow special legal testimony to be given to the Swiss authorities by the original prosecutor, Roger Gunson.

For the past few months, the 77 years old director has been under house arrest in his alpine ski chalet, wearing an electronic bracelet on his foot to keep him from fleeing as he did during his original trial. He is now expected to return to his home in France at the earliest opportunity. "This is an enormous satisfaction and a great relief after the pain suffered by Roman Polanski and his family," said his lawyer, Herve Temime.

The decision means that Polanski is unlikely ever to face a legal hearing over his alleged rape of Samantha Geimer, then an aspiring model, despite his confession that they had sex. Geimer herself says she would prefer to forget about the incident at this stage in her life. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf stressed, however, that the court's decision does not reflect a conclusion that Polanski is innocent.

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