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Polanski's prosecution motivated by politics, not justice, his attorneys assert

January 19, 2010 |  4:13 pm

Roman Polanski's lawyers suggested in a legal filing Tuesday that prosecutors were motivated by politics and not justice in opposing the acclaimed director's request to be sentenced in absentia in a three-decade-old child sex case.

"Politics seems to be interfering with the just administration of the law," Polanski's attorneys wrote.  The filing urged Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza to go forward with a sentencing hearing that Polanski's lawyers claim will expose misconduct in the original handling of the case.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office argued in papers filed last week that sentencing Polanski in absentia would allow a long-standing and notorious fugitive to dictate court proceedings.

Referring to the director's contention that the judge in 1978 reneged on a plan to count a pre-sentencing prison stint served by Polanski as his formal sentence, the lawyers wrote, "if the District Attorney were truly concerned about the fair and equitable operation of the judicial system, the office would readily admit that Mr. Polanski has served his agreed-upon punishment...and stipulate to the entry of final judgment."

Espinoza has set a Friday hearing for arguments on the issue of sentencing in absentia. A state appellate court proposed that course of action in a decision last month. Polanski, 76, who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is currently under house arrest in Switzerland pending a decision by a court there on whether to extradite him.

-- Harriet Ryan

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