Convicted felon Roman Polanski, currently seeking refuge from the law in Switzerland, has issued an official public statement in regards to the push by the United States to have him extradited back to this country so that he can finally answer for his crimes and face punishment for his 1977 conviction of child rape. Breaking his silence for the first time, Polanski is seeking to tell his side of the story because he believes the case against him is based on lies. Here are excerpts of Roman Polanski’s official statement:
Ending a long silence, Roman Polanski addressed his possible extradition to the United States over a 33-year-old sex-crime case with a statement that accused authorities here of “trying to serve me on a platter to the media of the world,” instead of honoring what he described as an agreement, made decades ago, to limit his punishment to time already served. “I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words,” Mr. Polanski said in the statement, which was distributed to the news media on Sunday. The 908-word statement was circulated by Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is a friend of Mr. Polanski’s and the director of the French magazine La Règle du Jeu. Mr. Polanski, the Oscar-winning director whose films include “The Pianist” and “Chinatown,” was arrested in Switzerland on Sept. 26. He has since been held pending possible extradition for sentencing in the case that stemmed from his arrest in 1977 after having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Charged with various offenses, including rape, Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor. He spent 42 days in a California state prison during a psychiatric evaluation, but fled the country before final sentencing by Judge Laurence J. Rittenband. Mr. Polanski’s lawyers have argued in court that Judge Rittenband, who died in 1993, committed improprieties in the case and had promised that the psychiatric evaluation would be Mr. Polanski’s entire sentence. Prosecutors and a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge have insisted that Mr. Polanski cannot pursue his claims until he returns to the United States. But Mr. Polanski’s lawyers have argued that an extradition request sent to Swiss authorities concealed facts that would show that he does not qualify for extradition. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has strongly disputed that claim. The Los Angeles court has scheduled a hearing for next Monday on an effort by Mr. Polanski to unseal recent testimony in which, Mr. Polanski’s lawyers say, the prosecutor who handled his case, Roger Gunson, describes Judge Rittenband’s misconduct and intended limits on the sentence. “I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie,” Mr. Polanski wrote in the statement. Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said that because the matter was pending before the Swiss courts, “we will withhold comment until the Swiss make a decision on his fugitive status.”
I, personally, feel no sympathy for Polanski in the least. The fact that he plead guilty to child rape is heinous enough but that he would have the gall to flee the country before sentencing because he believed the terms of his punishment would be changed against his will (a convicted felon, mind you) and then spend the next few decades hiding out seems proof to me of his absolute guilt. I’m of the mind that the man needs to be hauled back to court here in the US and rightfully punished for his crimes. It just seems so clear to me. After the jump, if you have the inclination (and the stomach) you can read the full text of Polanski’s official statement (be warned, it’s a 4-pager) …
I can remain silent no longer!
Throughout my seven months since September 26, 2009, the date of my arrest at Zurich Airport, where I had landed with a view to receiving a lifetime award for my work from the representative of the Swiss Minister of Culture, I have refrained from making any public statements and have requested my lawyers to confine their comments to a bare minimum. I wanted the legal authorities of Switzerland and the United States, as well as my lawyers, to do their work without any polemics on my part.
I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words. I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else.
It is true: 33 years ago I pleaded guilty, and I served time at the prison for common law crimes at Chino, not in a VIP prison. That period was to have covered the totality of my sentence. By the time I left prison, the judge had changed his mind and claimed that the time served at Chino did not fulfil the entire sentence, and it is this reversal that justified my leaving the United States.
This affair was roused from its slumbers of over three decades by a documentary film-maker who gathered evidence from persons involved at the time. I took no part in that project, either directly or indirectly. The resulting documentary not only highlighted the fact that I left the United States because I had been treated unjustly; it also drew the ire of the Los Angeles authorities, who felt that they had been attacked and decided to request my extradition from Switzerland, a country I have been visiting regularly for over 30 years without let or hindrance.
I can now remain silent no longer!
I can remain silent no longer because the American authorities have just decided, in defiance of all the arguments and depositions submitted by third parties, not to agree to sentence me in absentia even though the same Court of Appeal recommended the contrary.
I can remain silent no longer because the California court has dismissed the victim’s numerous requests that proceedings against me be dropped, once and for all, to spare her from further harassment every time this affair is raised once more.
I can remain silent no longer because there has just been a new development of immense significance. On February 26 last, Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney in charge of the case in 1977, now retired, testified under oath before Judge Mary Lou Villar in the presence of David Walgren, the present deputy district attorney in charge of the case, who was at liberty to contradict and question him, that on September 16, 1977, Judge Rittenband stated to all the parties concerned that my term of imprisonment in Chino constituted the totality of the sentence I would have to serve.
I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie. In the same statement, retired deputy district attorney Roger Gunson added that it was false to claim, as the present district attorney’s office does in their request for my extradition, that the time I spent in Chino was for the purpose of a diagnostic study.
The said request asserts that I fled in order to escape sentencing by the U.S. judicial authorities, but under the plea-bargaining process I had acknowledged the facts and returned to the United States in order to serve my sentence. All that remained was for the court to confirm this agreement, but the judge decided to repudiate it in order to gain himself some publicity at my expense.
I can remain silent no longer because for over 30 years my lawyers have never ceased to insist that I was betrayed by the judge, that the judge perjured himself, and that I served my sentence. Today it is the deputy district attorney who handled the case in the 1970s, a man of irreproachable reputation, who has confirmed all my statements under oath, and this has shed a whole new light on the matter.
I can remain silent no longer because the same causes are now producing the same effects. The new District Attorney, who is handling this case and has requested my extradition, is himself campaigning for election and needs media publicity!
I can no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago.
I can remain silent no longer because I have been placed under house arrest in Gstaad and bailed in very large sum of money which I have managed to raise only by mortgaging the apartment that has been my home for over 30 years, and because I am far from my family and unable to work.
Such are the facts I wished to put before you in the hope that Switzerland will recognize that there are no grounds for extradition, and that I shall be able to find peace, be reunited with my family, and live in freedom in my native land.
In my estimation no letters, no sternly worded explanations can overshadow the fact that this man is guilty, by his own admission, of heinous crimes and should be brought before the court for rightful sentencing. If he believes he is being treated unjustly, then he has to go thru the proper legal channels just like anyone else. Until this man is brought to final justice, I cannot support his ludicrous claims of being treated unjustly. Pay for your crimes, Polanski.