Polanski faces extradition after US ruling

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April 23, 2010 - 08:25

A United States court has rejected an appeal by film director Roman Polanski, under house arrest in Switzerland, to be tried in absentia in a 1978 underage sex case.

The decision paves the way for his extradition but Swiss justice officials are waiting for further information from the US before deciding whether to carry out the extradition order.

Polanski is wanted in California for sentencing, having fled the country for France three decades ago.

The 76-year-old was picked up by Swiss authorities on an international arrest warrant in September at Zurich airport and is under house arrest on bail in his chalet in Gstaad.

A California state appeals court on Thursday upheld the decision of a Los Angeles judge in January that ruled Polanski must return to the US before he can be sentenced.

The appellate panel found Polanski “failed to demonstrate” that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza lacked the discretion to refuse his request to remain abroad while the case against him was concluded.

A spokeswoman for Polanski's lawyers said they had no comment on whether there would be further appeals.

If Switzerland moves to extradite Polanski, he will have 30 days to appeal against the decision with the Federal Criminal Court. If he loses the appeal he could take the case to the Federal Court, although the country’s top court does not usually cover extradition cases.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor but fled the country for France in 1978 before sentencing.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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