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Swiss refuse bail for Roman Polanski

October 6, 2009 |  8:31 am

Film director Roman Polanski, fighting extradition from a Swiss prison to the United States in a case from three decades ago involving sex with a teenage girl, has lost his first bid to have his arrest overturned.

Folco Galli, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Justice in Bern, the Swiss capital, said today that his office has rejected Polanski's request for a reconsideration of the warrant leading to his arrest.

At the same time, the office of justice also recommended Monday to a federal criminal court that Polanski's application for release from prison be denied.

"We are still persuaded that there is still a danger that he will escape, and that liberation on bail could not guarantee his presence through the extradition proceedings," Galli said.

Polanski, the Oscar-winning director of such classic films as "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," was taken into custody Sept. 26 in Zurich, where he had gone to accept a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. The arrest came at the request of authorities in Los Angeles, who want Polanski back in court 31 years after he fled the U.S. before he could be sentenced for unlawful sex with a minor.

Lawyers for Polanski, 76, have suggested that he be released from jail and allowed to spend his detention at the home he owns in the Swiss resort town of Gstaad.

In a statement today, Herve Temime, Polanski's Paris-based attorney, insisted that Polanski would "not leave the Swiss territory during the whole extradition procedure, and [would] respect all the obligations that may be imposed upon him in order to guarantee that commitment."

But legal experts say that such a decision by the Swiss court would be highly unlikely and that Polanski will probably have to stay in prison for several months while extradition proceedings play out.

-- Henry Chu in London and Devorah Lauter in Paris

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