Director may go voluntarily to face US justice

Film director Roman Polanski, currently detained in Switzerland, may go voluntarily to the United States, his lawyer said, where he is wanted on a 1977 charge of having sex with a minor.


Filmmaker Roman Polanski, currently being held in Switzerland on child sex offence charges, may go voluntarily to the United States to face justice, his lawyer said.

The United States has until late November to file a extradition request against the Franco-Polish film director.

Polanski admitted having sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl in California in 1977, then fled the country after spending a short time in prison.

"We could be heading towards an extradition if the Swiss justice system does not take into account arguments against it," lawyer Georges Kiejman said on France's Europe 1 radio.

"If the procedure drags on, it is not impossible that Roman Polanski could choose to go and explain himself in the United States, where there are some arguments in his favour," he said. 

US authorities have until the end of November to make a firm extradition request. Judicial sources say the process could take years if Polanski challenges it. 

Polanski, 76, has dual French and Polish citizenship. Swiss authorities arrested him at the request of the United States as he flew in to Zurich to accept a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. 

He had pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and spent 42 days in prison having psychiatric tests. 

But he fled the United States in 1978, before sentencing, fearing that the judge would overrule his plea agreement for time already served and send him to jail for 50 years. 

On Tuesday, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court denied Polanski bail, saying that there was a high likelihood he would flee the country to avoid being separated from his children. The court added that he had the financial means to run away.

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