Fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski has been allowed to testify via live video link in his libel case against Vanity Fair. Polanski is now 71 and lives in France, a fugitive from American justice, having fled the country after pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Vanity Fair is sold in both Britain and the United States, but Polanski chose to file his lawsuit in London because “Britain’s libel laws are weighted against defendants and tend to make it far easier for plaintiffs to win cases here than in American courts. ”
But Polanski didn’t actually want to travel to London to testify in his own lawsuit. Because Britain has extradition agreements with the United States, he feared that if he went to London he would be arrested and sent back to the United States.
The New York Times report continues “The Law Lords, Britain’s highest court, ruled in February that Mr. Polanski could bring the case – Polanski v. Cond?? Nast Publications Ltd. – without appearing in person. He is the first plaintiff to do so in such a case in Britain.”
The magazine article in question didn’t even focus on Polanski, but rather examined New York City restaurant icon, Elaine’s. The article claimed that Polanski stopped by the hot-spot on the way to his wife’s funeral. Polanski’s wife was Sharon Tate murdered as part of the Manson Family horrors. The article claimed that Polanski was wooing a beautiful Swedish woman. Polanski countered this claim, saying in court that it was “all lies.” Vanity Fair has admitted some factual inaccuracies; the event took place after the funeral, not before. But the magazine stood by the article saying that the substance of the material was true.
Here’s my question… if you are a fugitive from justice and you won’t enter one country because you’re afraid of having to do the time that you accepted by pleading guilty in another country, how can you be so worried about your reputation? If you can’t face the sentence you accepted when you pled guilty, then you can’t be worried about what people think of you. My opinion at least.
Read The New York Times article here.