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Poland refuses to extradite film director Polanski to US over rape of 13-year-old

The latest chapter in a four-decade saga.

Poland Polanski Source: Alik Keplicz/PA

POLAND WILL NOT extradite Oscar-winning film-maker Roman Polanski to the US in an almost 40-year-old case, after prosecutors declined to challenge a court ruling against the extradition request.

Prosecutors in Krakow, who had sought the extradition on behalf of the US, said today they found the court’s refusal of extradition to be “right” and said they found no grounds to appeal it.

A lawyer for Polanski, Jan Olszewski, told The Associated Press that the director’s reaction was of “great relief” and “satisfaction” that the irregularities in the US procedure have been exposed.

Polanski spoke to his lawyer over the phone from Paris, where he lives with his family.

The case was heard in Krakow, where the 82-year-old has residence in Poland.

The decision by the prosecutors closes the case in Poland and means Polanski is now free to reside and work in Poland, where he grew up and studied film-making, and where he is preparing to make a new movie.

Preparations for the movie were stalled by the arrest and extradition requests that the US made last year. In 2011, Switzerland rejected a U.S. request to extradite Polanski.

The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer during a photo shoot in Los Angeles.

Polanski Leaves Court Polanski, with Los Angeles police, in 1977. Source: Associated Press

In a deal with the judge, he served 42 days in prison, but then fled the US, fearing the judge would have him imprisoned again for much longer.

Since then, the US has been seeking to bring Polanski back and put him before a court.

Geimer, his alleged victim, has consistently pleaded with US authorities to drop their case against Polanski.

Krakow prosecutors shared the court’s opinion that Polanski had served his punishment and did not need to face a US court again.

A judge in Krakow ruled last month that Polanski’s extradition is inadmissible, arguing that the US trial was not fair and that Polanski would not face fair treatment there, something that violates Europe’s convention on human rights.

The Krakow prosecutors said in a statement they agreed with the court’s reasoning.

The film-maker’s movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries, but he has avoided extradition by travelling only between France, Poland and Switzerland.

Olszewski and another lawyer for Polanski, Jerzy Stachowicz, said they will try to make the Polish court’s verdict applicable in all of the 26 countries belonging to the Schengen passport-free travel zone. But he didn’t give details of that plan.

Polanski won an Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film The Pianist that he filmed in Warsaw and was nominated for 1974′s Chinatown and 1979′s Tess.

Read: US asks Poland to extradite director Polanski over rape of 13-year-old>

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