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Roman Polanski faces 2 years in prison if returned to L.A., Swiss officials say

October 23, 2009 |  8:04 am

Swiss authorities said that director Roman Polanski could spend up to two years in prison if he was extradited back to the United States for sentencing in a sexual assault case.

Officials said in a statement earlier this morning that U.S. officials formally asked Swiss officials to extradite the famed director, 76, to Los Angeles, where he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. Polanski fled to Europe just before sentencing for that crime.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have refused to say what kind of sentence they would seek for Polanski if he returns to Los Angeles, and they could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Last month, prosecutors said the proceedings should pick up exactly where they left off in 1978 -- with a judge sentencing Polanski for a statutory rape charge. "He will appear before the court and the court will decide what his sentence is," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, told The Times in late September, after Polanski was arrested in Zurich.

Legal experts, however, said Polanski has options beyond begging for leniency. There are a number of legal maneuvers, such as withdrawing his guilty plea, that could result in the case being dropped entirely or in a sentence of no prison time.

Polanski's attorney have said he will fight extradition from Zurich.

--Shelby Grad

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