Polish government says will extradite Polanski to U.S. if wins court approval

Wed Jun 1, 2016 8:47am EDT
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By Wiktor Szary and Wojciech Zurawski

WARSAW/KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) - Poland intends to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States over a 1977 child sex conviction if the supreme court approves the move, the justice minister said on Wednesday, in a new twist to a decades-long legal battle.

Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as Poland's prosecutor general, said on Tuesday he would appeal to the supreme court against an earlier court decision not to extradite the Polish-born Oscar-winning filmmaker.

"If the (supreme court) appeal is upheld, I will give an approving decision," Ziobro told a news conference, adding that he would await the ruling "respectfully".

As justice minister, Ziobro would have the final say on extradition. Polanski, 82, often visits Poland and has an apartment in the southern Polish city of Krakow but he lives mostly in France, so it is unclear how Warsaw would be able to extradite him unless he returned voluntarily.

The United States requested Polanski's extradition from Poland after he made a high-profile appearance in Warsaw in 2014. A Polish court rejected the request last October and the prosecutor's office initially said it would not appeal that decision.

But after the staunchly conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party swept to power after an election last October, it merged the posts of justice minister and prosecutor general, giving it more direct control over prosecution.

Ziobro has been a vocal critic of the court's decision not to extradite Polanski, saying his celebrity status had helped him to escape justice.

Polanski's lawyer Jan Olszewski said the prosecution's statements on the case were "misleading" and aimed at politicizing the case.   Continued...

Filmmaker Roman Polanski walks on a corridor during a break of a court hearing in Krakow February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo