Warsaw - Polish prosecutors sent a request Tuesday to a regional court in Krakow for the extradition of director Roman Polanski, arguing that the director's Polish citizenship would not be a legal obstacle to sending him to the United States.
The request is a procedural step and it does not indicate that Polanski will necessarily be extradited in connection with a 1977 sex crime. The decision will fall first to the court, and then, if it recommends extradition, the case would be taken up by the justice minister.
Still, it won't be a welcome move for the director since it delays the uncertainty over his case in Poland and leaves open the possibility of an extradition.
Many Polish leaders have expressed strong opposition to extraditing the 81-year-old Oscar-winner, who is revered for films that including The Pianist, Knife in the Water and Chinatown. They argue that he has already been punished enough for the sex crime. Polanski himself said last week he is confident Poland will not extradite him.
Based on the US request, prosecutors questioned him last week in Krakow, the city of his childhood. He is in Poland to prepare a new film on the Alfred Dreyfus affair, a late-19th-century French spy scandal.
Paris-born to Polish Jewish parents, Polanski spent his childhood and youth in Poland but lives in France. His movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries. He avoids extradition by traveling only between France, Poland and Switzerland.
In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He served 42 days in jail as part of a plea bargain but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing the next year.
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