Poland is to appeal against a court’s decision not to extradite film-maker Roman Polanski to the United States over a 1977 child sex conviction, the country’s justice minister said.
The Oscar-winning director served 42 days in jail as part of a plea bargain after admitting having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles.
The case has continued for nearly four decades, with some demanding harsh punishment and others saying the extradition efforts should be dropped.
After serving time in prison, Polanski fled the following year to Britain and then to France, believing the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and put him in jail for much longer.
Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, has made clear she believes Polanski’s long exile has been punishment enough.
The US requested Polanski’s extradition from Poland after he made a high-profile appearance in the capital Warsaw in 2014.
The Rosemary’s Baby director lives in Paris but also has an apartment in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
A Polish court rejected the extradition request in October, and the prosecutor’s office at first said it would not appeal against the ruling.
But since then, Poland’s new staunchly conservative government has merged the posts of justice minister and prosecutor general, giving it more direct control over prosecutions.
Zbigniew Ziobro, who has assumed the newly merged post, has been critical of the court’s decision not to extradite Polanski, claiming the director’s celebrity status had helped him escape justice.
Mr Ziobro told state news agency PAP: “I’ve decided to file to the supreme court an appeal over the ruling … in which the … court decided not to extradite Mr Polanski to the US in a situation when he’s accused of and wanted for … a rape of a child.
“If he was just a regular guy, a teacher, doctor, plumber, decorator, then I’m sure he’d have been deported from any country to the US a long time ago.”
Speaking to broadcaster TVN24, Polanski’s lawyer Jan Olszewski said that given what Mr Ziobro’s has said in the past, the decision was “not surprising”.
He said: “I guarantee that if there were no factual arguments on our side, Polanski’s (celebrity) status itself would not protect him from extradition.”