Category Archives: Crime

A new Polish push for Polanski’s extradition


Roman Polanski is facing yet another push to force him back to the United States to face an unjust judicial system exploiting his celebrity to draw political approbation.

This time it’s a second push by the right wing government of his native Poland that’s out to exploit a 39-year-old miscarriage of justice — a debacle about which we have first-hand experience, having reported on the case as it developed and having interviewed all the participants who appeared in the case [though we didn’t talk to Polanski until two decades later].

We have posted extensively about the Polanski case, and for a backgrounding on our perspective, we would direct your attention to a series of four posts: part one, part two, part three, and part four.

One thing we’ve noted throughout the years we’ve followed the case are the frequent inaccuracies in media coverage, and we’ll highlight that continuing tradition in this poost about the latest twist.

So on to the latest development, starting with this from New Europe:

Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski faces a new extradition challenge from Poland to the United States. Well, in theory.

In reality the new Polish government announced on Tuesday it would be challenging a Court ruling made in October 2015, days before it came to power. Polanski’s extradition in connection with a sex conviction in the United States is seen as an opportunity for the PiS government to show its moral credentials, just as the Minister of Justice has appropriated the office of the Public Prosecutor against the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Polanski was “accused of and wanted for … the rape of a child.” The prosecution of Polanski is, according to the Prosecutor-Minister, a “litmus test” that no one is above the law.

The story included this important information:

For his crime, Polanski spent 42 days in prison after his initial arrest in 1977. He then was allowed to flee overseas and has not returned to the United States for over 40 years.

No quite accurate, but it did include the critical fact that Polanski spent time in state prison.

The inaccuracy comes from the the declaration that, having done time, he was “allowed to flee overseas.” No, he wasn’t. He fled without permission, but for quite understandable reasons.

Next, from the New York Times:

Mr. Polanski was arrested in 1977 on charges that included the rape of a teenage girl at the home of the actor Jack Nicholson. That August, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor under a deal that allowed him to avoid conviction on other, harsher charges, including sodomy and rape.

He fled the United States the next year, after learning that the trial judge in California, Laurence J. Rittenband, had decided to revise a plan to limit his sentence to a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, a portion of which Mr. Polanski had already served in a state prison. (The judge, who died in 1993, once vowed to remain on the bench until Mr. Polanski returned.)

In 2009, a California appeals court panel suggested that Mr. Polanski could be sentenced in absentia to time served, opening the way to a possible resolution of the standoff. But the plan was rejected by the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Wrong again. The psychiatric diagnosis could take a maximum of 90 days, but in no cases that we covered or in the experience of any of the attorneys we interviewed did the exam take longer than 50 days.

There’s plenty more, after the jump. . .

BBC News simply stated: Continue reading

More evidence of that political coup in Brazil


And it just cost yet another minister his job in the government of Interim President Michel Temer, who assumed power after the 12 May Brazilian Senate vote to suspend President Dilma Rousseff pending the outcome of an impeachment trial in the senate.

Rousseff has maintained her ouster was nothing less than a legislative coup to block corruption investigations, and more and more evidence is emerging to back her claim.

Let’s open with this delectable morsel from the New York Times:

In an increasingly paranoid atmosphere in the capital, Brasília, members of the country’s political and business elite are secretly recording one another with the aim of reaching plea deals. Sergio Machado, a politician who was the chief executive of a Petrobras transportation unit for more than a decade, has turned over a trove of recordings to investigators.

In doing so, Mr. Machado, who has been accused of helping to orchestrate the Petrobras bribery scheme, is betraying various senior political figures whom he recorded. They include José Sarney, a former president; Renan Calheiros, the head of the Senate; and Mr. Jucá, the former planning minister, who remains a senator and the president of the P.M.D.B.

From the Guardian, the latest victim of Machado’s recorder:

The reputation of Brazil’s new interim government has slipped from fragile to farcical after a minister tasked with fighting corruption was forced to resign over a secretly recorded conversation implicating him in a cover-up.

Just 18 days after being installed as part of the new cabinet, Fabiano Silveira became the second minister to lose his post as a result of leaked tapes suggesting there is a coordinated, high-level campaign to quash the Lava Jato (car wash) investigation into a kickback scandal involving the state-run oil company Petrobras and dozens of politicians.

The resignation of Silveira — who held the portfolio of “transparency, monitoring and control” — increases the pressure on the administration of Michel Temer, which is struggling to shake off allegations that it seized control from suspended president Dilma Rousseff in order to stifle the biggest corruption probe in the country’s history.

And the dirt from teleSUR English:

In parts of the recordings, aired by TV Globo late Sunday, Silveira criticizes prosecutors in the probe focused on state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, which has already implicated dozens of politicians and led to the imprisonment of top executives.

In the conversation, recorded at Calheiros’ home three months before Silveira became a Cabinet minister, Silveira advises the Senate leader on how best to defend himself from the probe into Petrobras.

The former head of the transportation arm of Petrobras, Sergio Machado, who is under investigation as part of the graft probe and has turned state’s witness, recorded the meeting and conversations with other politicians to obtain leniency from prosecutors. Silveira was a counsellor on the National Justice Counsel, a judicial watchdog agency, at the time of the meeting.

In the report, Globo TV also said some audio indicated that Silveira on several occasions spoke with prosecutors in charge of the Petrobras case to find out what information they might have on Calheiros, which he reported back to the Senate leader.

Well, at least it takes the minds of the Brazilian public off Zika for a moment.

Headline of the day: Good boy, now go to jail


From United Press International:

Holder: Snowden’s actions a public service, but he must be punished

Edward Snowden’s surveillance program revelations were a public service but he must still face punishment, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Headline of the day II: Call to legalize spousal abuse


From the Express Tribune in Karachi, the national Council of Islamic Ideology offers its own proposed national “women protection bill, ” a response to the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015 [PDF] adopted in Punjab, which bars “any offence committed against a woman including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cybercrime.” The CII is an advisory body providing nonbinding recommendations to the natuional legislature:

CII proposes husbands be allowed to ‘lightly beat’ defying wives

The council has proposed that a husband should be allowed to ‘lightly’ beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires; turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods.

Chart of the day II: California, it’s going to pot


With a marijuana legalization on the November ballot, three out of five likely voters in California are likely to say the smoking lamp is lit.

From the Public Policy Institute of California [PDF]:

A majority (60%) of likely voters say that, in general, marijuana use should be legal, and 37 percent say it should not be legal . It is estimated that the initiative to legalize marijuana—if passed—would generate about $1 billion in tax revenue annually, most of which would be directed toward substance abuse prevention and treatment. Among likely voters, 43 percent say that spending the revenue this way is very important.

A majority (60%) of likely voters say that, in general, marijuana use should be legal, and 37 percent say it should not be legal . It is estimated that the initiative to legalize marijuana—if passed—would generate about $1 billion in tax revenue annually, most of which would be directed toward substance abuse prevention and treatment. Among likely voters, 43 percent say that spending the revenue this way is very important.

More doobie-us news, and another punny headline, from the East Bay Express:

California Pot Legalization Debated During Historic Joint Session

Not a single California legislator stated outright opposition to California’s pending marijuana-legalization initiative during historic hearings on the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in Sacramento this past Tuesday.

Rather, East Bay Assemblyman Bill Quirk stated his “strong support” for it, and Assemblyman Kenneth Gipson from Los Angeles predicted it “is going to be the law of the land,” and urged his colleagues to plan its implementation.

The unique “joint session” was a new requirement for the initiative process, and the hearing for five legislative committees offered a platform for initiative proponents and opponents to road test their arguments. The testimony was a powerful indicator of just how far the Golden State has evolved on cannabis.

A nonpartisan summary by Aaron Edwards of the Legislative Analyst’s Office finds AUMA would generate enforcement savings of $100 million and several hundred million to one billion dollars in tax revenues.

Headline of the day III: Slow news day in Old Blighty


From the London Evening Standard, a massive case of police and journalistic overreach:

BLOG Weapons

An esnl H/T to Just An Earth-Bound Misfit, I.

Tape proves Rousseff ouster really was a coup


Anyone with the slightest doubt that the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is anything other than a coup should be disabused of their credulity by events coming out of that Latin American nation today.

The scenario unfolding in Brasilia has elements of the Nixonian [tapes], touched with good old-fashioned corruption.

We open with the Independent:

Brazil’s interim leader Michel Temer is facing his first full-blown political crisis following the release of tape recordings seemingly showing that the suspension two weeks ago of President Dilma Rousseff was the result less of legitimate constitutional complaints and more of a plot.

After a day of frantic speculation in the capital, Brasilia, the country’s barely installed planning minister and top Temer ally, Romero Juca, announced he was temporarily stepping aside after admitting earlier in the day that his was one of two voices heard on the tape.

>snip<

Mr Temer became interim president of Latin America’s largest economy earlier this month after the upper chamber of the National Congress voted to suspend Ms Rousseff and begin an impeachment trial against her on charges she fiddled the nation’s books to paper over a dire budget deficit.  She and her allies contended however that she was in fact a victim of a “coup”.

The bomb was dropped on the Temer team early Monday when one of Brazil’s leading papers, the Folha de São Paulo, released chunks of a 75-minute conversation from early March between Mr Juca, who was then a Senator, and Sergio Machado, also a former senator and the head of a state oil company.  Who made the tape and why is not clear.

Al Jazeera English examines the timing and identifies the suspected Taper, whose motivations weren’t exactly Nixonian:

The scandal threatens Temer only 11 days after taking power from Rousseff, whom the Senate suspended as president on May 12 at the start of an impeachment trial on charges of breaking government accounting rules.

The Folha newspaper released what it said were recordings of conversations in March between Juca and Sergio Machado, a former oil executive.

The recordings were allegedly made secretly by Machado who, like Juca, is the target of an investigation into massive embezzlement centred on state oil company Petrobras.

In the conversations, Juca is heard calling for a “national pact” that he appears to suggest would stop the investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, in which dozens of top-ranking politicians from a variety of parties, as well as business executives, have been charged or already convicted for involvement in the Petrobras scheme.

MercoPress covers embarrassment:

Juca’s decision to take a leave from his post to defend himself is a huge blow for Interim President Michel Temer, who counted on the experienced senator to secure legislative support for key economic measures and reforms.

The new scandal also raises fears of further political instability in Brazil less than two weeks after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended to stand trial in the Senate for allegedly breaking fiscal laws.

>snip<

In recorded comments made before Rousseff was suspended and published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Monday, Juca told an ally he agreed on the need for a “national pact” to circumscribe the probe known as “Operation Car Wash.”

Asked for help by a friend and former senator under investigation in the probe, Jucá replied, “The government has to be changed in order to stop this bleeding.”

There’s a whole lot more after the jump. . . Continue reading