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Polanski stays in Switzerland until L.A. courts resolve legal issues, justice ministry says

February 12, 2010 |  7:55 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a757db52970b-800wiIn a victory for Roman Polanski, a Swiss justice official said Friday  that authorities there won't extradite the director to the United States until L.A. courts determine whether Polanski should serve time for having sex with a 13-year-old girl more than three decades ago.

The official said Polanski should remain under house arrest at his Alpine lodge until the courts in California resolve various legal issues.

Last month, a judge rejected Polanski's request to be sentenced in absentia, scuttling the director's latest bid to end his three-decade-old child sex case.

The judge hoped that such a sentencing would allow his lawyers to lay out evidence of judicial misconduct in his case and secure him a sentence of no further time behind bars. Although a state appeals panel had suggested that Polanski be sentenced in absentia as the director is facing extradition proceedings in Switzerland, Judge Peter Espinoza said he was not bound by the higher court's suggestion.

Polanski's defense quickly vowed to appeal. 

"When the question is still open, why should he be extradited?" Swiss justice official Rudolf Wyss told  Associated Press. "As long as the question is still open, our decision depends on that."

Polanski fled the U.S. just before he was set to be sentenced for having sex with the girl, contending that the original judge in the case, the late Laurence Rittenband, reneged on a promise to count the time the director spent in state prison before sentencing as his entire punishment.

Swiss officials have said Polanski faced two years in prison if sent back to L.A.

--Shelby Grad

Photo: Associated Press

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