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World

LA Prosecutors: Polanski Cannot Dictate Terms to End Rape Case

Polanski was arrested on U.S. warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade but both countries declined to extradite him

Roman Polanski walking on a corridor during a break of a court hearing in Krakow, photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
9 months ago

LOS ANGELES – Fugitive director Roman Polanski could face a tough U.S court battle next week as he seeks to resolve his four-decade rape case without spending more time in jail.

Los Angeles prosecutors said in a court filing ahead of a hearing on Monday that the Oscar-winning movie maker could not dictate the terms of his return to the United States from afar.

Polanski’s attorney will ask a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to rule that Polanski fulfilled his time behind bars in 1977, when he served 42 days ahead of sentencing for the rape.

Attorney Harland Braun has said Polanski wants to travel freely, without risk of extradition, and to return to the United States to visit the grave of his wife, Sharon Tate, who was murdered in Los Angeles by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.

The case of French-Polish Polanski, 83, has been a cause celebre for 40 years. He pleaded guilty in Los Angeles in 1977 to having sex with a 13 year-old girl and served 42 days in jail after a plea bargain. He later fled the United States, fearing a lengthy jail sentence if the agreement was overruled.

Director Roman Polanski, who has turned down an invitation to head the jury at France’s Cesar film awards following an outcry from women’s groups, poses with his Best Director award for “La Venus A La Fourrure” (Venus in Fur) during a photocall at the 39th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris, France, February 28, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Prosecutors said in the court documents filed on Thursday that the “Rosemary’s Baby” director had made repeated requests for special treatment.

“The defendant is, once again, trying to dictate the terms of his return without risk to himself …. [He] wants answers — but will only show up if he likes the answers,” Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey wrote.

“There will be no discussion regarding what will happen until Mr. Polanski returns,” Lacey added.

Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, has long made clear she believes Polanski’s self-imposed exile has been punishment enough.

Polanski was arrested on U.S. warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade but both countries declined to extradite him.

Braun also argues that the Los Angeles court should give weight to the 2016 Polish extradition denial. Lacey said it was rejected due to a “lack of understanding of American procedure and practice” by the Polish court.

Polanski’s career has flourished despite the rape case. In 2002, he won an Oscar for directing the Holocaust film “The Pianist” but did not travel to the United States to collect it.

In January, however, he withdrew from heading the jury at France’s Cesar film awards after an outcry from women’s groups over what they said was France’s “scandalous protection” of Polanski.

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