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Court pursues Polanksi but hints at freedom

A United States court will not dismiss the case against film director Roman Polanski but did issue an opinion that suggests ways the celebrity could win his freedom.

Polanski has been under house arrest in the Swiss resort of Gstaad while awaiting possible extradition to the US for sentencing in a case of unlawful sex with a minor in the late 1970s.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeals on Monday rejected a request filed on behalf of both Polanski and his victim, Samantha Geimer, to have the case dismissed case outright.

But in a strongly worded opinion the court said it was “deeply concerned” about probable misconduct in the case by a now-deceased judged who presided over the original matter.

Polanski pleaded guilty and served more than 40 days in jail for a diagnostic study. He fled to France in 1978 on the eve of being sentenced because was reportedly worried that the judge was going to renege on a plea bargain and give him more jail time.

Fleeing was the wrong thing to do, the court said in a 70-page ruling.

“Even in light of our fundamental concern about the misconduct flight was not Polanski's only option,” the opinion reads. “It was not even his best option.”

As for what happens next, the court hinted at two legal options for the director. He could file a motion to be sentenced in absentia or he could drop his extradition fight and return to the US to be sentenced in person, most likely not resulting in more jail time. Either way, the court said it wants the matter resolved quickly.

“We encourage all participating parties to do their utmost to ensure that this matter now draws to a close in a manner the fully addresses the issues of due process and fundamental fairness raised by the events of long ago,” it said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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