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Roman Polanski asks US court to sentence him in abstentia

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-07

Lawyers for Roman Polanski have asked a Los Angeles court to sentence the film director in his absence on a 1977 charge of sex with a minor. Judge Peter Espinoza will consider Polanski's request at a hearing scheduled for January 22.

REUTERS - Lawyers for Roman Polanski asked a Los Angeles judge on Wednesday to sentence the Oscar-winning film director in his absence on a 1977 charge of having sex with a 13 year-old girl.

Judge Peter Espinoza set a Jan. 22 date for a full hearing on the request by Polanski’s Los Angeles-based lawyer Chad Hummel, and told him to submit his reasons in writing.

Prosecutors indicated they would oppose any bid to have Polanski sentenced without returning to Los Angeles.

"Not the perfect solution for Polanski"

Polanski, 76, who won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Pianist”, is under house arrest in Switzerland fighting extradition to the United States. He was arrested in Switzerland in September on a U.S. warrant.

He fled the United States before sentencing in 1978, but after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, and spent most of the past 30 years living and working in France.

Hummel’s request followed a suggestion by a California appeals court last month that a sentence in absentia for Polanski could be one way to resolve the decades-old battle to bring him to justice.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren told Wednesday’s hearing that the director should come back to California and not continue to fight the case “from the comfort of his Swiss chalet in the Alps.”

Swiss authorities have said they will make a decision on extradition in early 2010.

A California appeals court in December denied Polanski’s bid to have the unlawful sex case dismissed due to alleged judicial misconduct. But the appellate panel said the misconduct allegations were “extremely serious” and should be investigated.

Hummel also asked Espinoza on Wednesday to hold a hearing on the judicial misconduct allegations.

The judge did not make a ruling on either request but indicated he might wait for the Swiss authorities to make the next move.

He also suggested another way to resolve the case, saying; “Mr Polanski could simply say, ‘I’ll come back’.”

Under current California law, Polanski faces a maximum two years behind bars on his guilty plea but his lawyers would likely argue for a lesser sentence.

Polanski, who hold dual French and Polish nationality, is married and has two children. His other movies include “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown”.

Date created : 2010-01-07

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