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The Swiss arrest Roman Polanski.

Balmer said Polanski's arrest was not influenced by politics, even though the director has often traveled or stayed in the country. Novelist Robert Harris, whose book "Ghost" is being made into a movie by the director, told Britain's Press Association that Polanski owns a house in Gstaad, which he has visited regularly while filming in Germany, and that there was never any warning he faced arrest.

In the Swiss capital of Bern, Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters Switzerland had only one legal option for dealing with Polanski's visit, and rejected the idea that there was any U.S. pressure in ordering the arrest.

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More .

Twenty days later, they filed a second document and raised the issue again in a footnote. “Combined with the fact that no effort has been made to extradite Mr. Polanski, the intent here is clear: invoke a physical absence which they caused and deliberately perpetuate in order to preserve the unconstitutional status quo and never address the misconduct head on,” the lawyers wrote.

The allegations prompted the district attorney’s office to look for an opportunity to seize Polanski, and his appearance in Switzerland, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S., provided such a chance, said the sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because it was an ongoing investigation.

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Sandy,

Either the law is respected or it means nothing and anybody feels justified in taking the law into their own hands. Lots of guilty people are not held accountable for their crimes. Nothing new about that. But we must at least try to stick to the principles. I would think if it was your child or sister who was the victim of rape you might not have the same approach. I am not for vengence, but why should someone who has admitted to his guilt not pay his debt to society. It's not as if he claimed he was innocent. He just didn't want to go to prison.

They chased Pinochet until he died an old man and good that they did and bad that he never paid his debt to the people of Argentina.

Raping a child. This is not robbing a bank, but violating an innocent child. You don't do things like that.

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I would think if it was your child or sister who was the victim of rape you might not have the same approach

We should avoid personal remarks such as the foregoing, which suggest that the addressee is lacking in sensitivities possessed by the person posting such comments.

I take your point that there have been worse crimes, Sandy, but it was still a crime. Polanski’s victim has indicated a desire to move on, for various reasons, but there is a reason why charges are brought in the name of the people or the state and not individuals – because such behavior is a crime against society and not just one person. In other words, her views on how the state should handle the case are in a sense irrelevant.

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but there is a reason why charges are brought in the name of the people or the state and not individuals

We've totally lost track of this principle of law -- as trials have become a form of entertainment.

I'm divided about Polanksi's case because our sentencing policies are so out of synch with those of the rest of the world, at least with Europe's.

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Sandy,

Either the law is respected or it means nothing and anybody feels justified in taking the law into their own hands. Lots of guilty people are not held accountable for their crimes. Nothing new about that. But we must at least try to stick to the principles. I would think if it was your child or sister who was the victim of rape you might not have the same approach. I am not for vengence, but why should someone who has admitted to his guilt not pay his debt to society. It's not as if he claimed he was innocent. He just didn't want to go to prison.

They chased Pinochet until he died an old man and good that they did and bad that he never paid his debt to the people of Argentina.

Raping a child. This is not robbing a bank, but violating an innocent child. You don't do things like that.

This whole case raises many questions.

Is this the best use of our international police efforts? This is a person who poses no threat to society, so aside from vengence what would be the point? Certainly not deterrence. According to what I've read, Polanski has had a home in Switzerland, and has resided there much of the year for quite some time, why go after him now?

That said, since the victim forgave him long ago and has no interest in pursuing charges I believe in amnesty. Amnesty has become a word much disparaged recently in our country, but I love the word.

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I'm divided about Polanksi's case because our sentencing policies are so out of synch with those of the rest of the world, at least with Europe's.

But we have no more obligation to align our standards with theirs than they do to align theirs with ours. Polanski had an obligation to pay for crimes committed here according to standards maintained here. To flee with the excuse that the judge had reneged on an understood agreement is to say that the criminal has a right to determine his own punishment.

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Polanski has been pretty careful over the years in avoiding countries that might extradite him. I suspect he became complacent about Switzerland, but the US-Swiss relationship has of late been tenser than usual over tax issues.

Anybody want to bet that the DA wants to run for something, and only pressed the matter in order to have a nice, showy notch on his six-shooter?

Probably the recent activities of Polanski's own lawyers and supporters to get a deal cut have been hurting him more than helping him. (Also, when people are reminded of what Polanski actually did, there is a tendency on the part of many not to feel terribly sorry for him. At the time of the initial charges Polanski also made some remarks that could politely be described as ill-advised – he's never done much to help his own cause.)

I'm divided about Polanski's case because our sentencing policies are so out of synch with those of the rest of the world, at least with Europe's.

Very true.

(Edited to add: I was posting at about the same time as you, kfw, but you make good points.)

Edited by dirac
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It is hard to define the fairness of certain outcomes within the criminal law system. Polanski is still prosecuted-(even if the alleged victim has decided not to keep proceeding with the ordeal)-and then, on the other side, we keep paying for Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten's living expenses...(oops, that's not true.. not Atkins anymore...she just died...may she-(... )-:wink: )

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So many good points are being made. I just want to ask again - Is this the best use of our international police efforts? To me this seems like a low priority case that will eat up time, money and news space. I really think it is not a good use of resources.

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Polanski had an obligation to pay for crimes committed here according to standards maintained here.

Unfortunately those standards here in the States and in California have changed greatly over the past 40 years -- in general punishments are more severe than in the old days -- and so Polanski would be sentenced by different set of criteria than originally would have been the case.

Added: I assume that extradition treatries would presume symmetry in punishments. In immigration and asylum cases lawyers often base pleas on the variances in sentencing laws, that is, you wouldn't want to send someone away to a country where they would be in prison forever instead of say, normally five years. It would be informative in this discussion to be able to compare Polanksi's original sentence, his plea-bargained sentence, his sentence today in Switzerland and his sentence today in California -- post-Three Strikes and other controversial laws.

Also "civilized" States, such as the US and Switzerland and others in Europe, should keep an eye on each other regarding punishments -- there's peer review whatever field you're in.

And I curious how happy the the US really is have this case thrown back into our laps.

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The Guardian has been quite scrupulous in offering both sides of the extradition argument

The argument for:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...est-switzerland

And the argument against:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/ci...est-switzerland

The comments underneath give a good idea of British sentiments as to how Polanski should be treated and although Ms Poirier claims to speak for France, I very much doubt that many French people would endorse her views.

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A Swiss national, in another forum, raised this point:

Actually he's had a holiday house here for years. However he doesn't seem to follow Swiss domestic politics. The international arrest order that was put out in 2005 by the US wasn't relevant in Switzerland because what he'd done fell under the statute of limitations in Swiss law. However, a year ago Switzerland voted in an amendment under which there is no statute of limitation for paedophilia. This just came into force recently. As such the international arrest order now became relevant and was acted upon.

There is an article in The Daily Telegraph about a legal defense strategy going wide of the target:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics...s-strategy.html

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Like so many cases, this one raises many nuanced and complex issues. The solution will not satisfy all and probably satisfy no one. The facts remain:

The man engaged in rape of a 13 year old child etc.

He has plead guilty to the charges

He has not paid his debt to SOCIETY for these crimes.

There are many matters for police and the justice system which may effect more people and which are being ignored such as the Cuban terorrist Orlando Bosh who admitted to bombing a plane and is a free man in Miami. This sad fact will always be present and is not a reason to ignore this matter.

If Polanski wants to make some claim that he should not pay for his admitted crime, he will have an opportunity to do so. His work as a film maker is not an issue. There are always mitigating circumstances. Let them be aired and let the court decide. Mr Polanski has no right to decide what is right and wrong. That's what Bush did and we did not approve of it then either.

Sandy, perhaps you can provide the key facts which you feel make this not so cut and dry?

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There is an issue of flight, and under what charge the warrant and extradition request is made. Is it for statutory rape, or for flight?

An Appeals Court judge in the original jurisdiction has stated publicly that there were "irregularities" and "misconduct" involved in the original proceeding.

Because of changes in the effective laws in both the US and Switzerland, the issue of ex post facto enters in. I know virtually nothing of Swiss law, but it strikes me as an international doctrine that one cannot be prosecuted under a law which was not in effect at the time of the original act.

The "gifted artist" argument is a non-starter. But the argument that the original jurisdiction has been dilatory in its pursuit of a fugitive isn't bad! To claim that a convicted individual no longer has any rights before sentence is imposed is, at best, weak.

The proper venue for a final determination in the case would be a court of law with appropriate jurisdiction. We can jaw it to death, but none of us has all the evidence before us, and while we have rights to opinions*, and the right to express those opinions, but we lack enforcement authority, except for our own conduct. Whether to greet Polanski cordially, should the occasion arise, or to cut him dead is within all our jurisdictions.

*opinion - rather like noses; everybody has at least one, and most of them smell.

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