Jack Leonard and Andrew Blankstein of the Los Angeles Times got it right in their story about the case. First, they report that the extradition treaty signed by the U.S. and Switzerland doesn’t mandate the handing over of those facing six months or less of prison.
Then they identify the key document the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office refused to provide the Swiss:
After Polanski was detained last year, former Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger Gunson provided testimony about the meeting he and the director’s original defense attorney had with the judge in 1977. His testimony was given in the event that he was unable to attend a hearing should Polanski return to Los Angeles.
Two judges ordered that the transcripts from Gunson’s deposition remain sealed, citing state law.
Swiss authorities appeared to give contradictory views of how important the transcripts were to the extradition case.
In April, a justice ministry spokesman told the Associated Press that his office was not interested in Gunson’s testimony. But on Monday, the same agency said it had asked the U.S. for the records and had been rebuffed.
Robert Weisberg, a Stanford law professor, said that Polanski’s three-decade-old criminal case raises a host of complicated legal issues and that the extradition request may have been “hopeless from the start.”
“Switzerland apparently decided, ‘We will not extradite someone back into this legal morass,’ ” Weisberg said.
Indeed. The transcript detailed the prosecutor’s concerns about the case and, presumably, the judge’s breech of the agreement after Polanski had served time in prison specified in the agreement.
To the Swiss, it must have looked as though they were being asked to hand over a man who had already completed the agreed prison confinement to a kangaroo court and a capricious prosecutor. That they acted as they did demonstrates that the law means more to the Swiss than it does to an ambitious California prosecutor and a court system which should be ashamed of itself.