Polanski extradition request 'untruthful': lawyers

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers for Roman Polanski have accused US prosecutors of withholding information from Swiss justice authorities who will decide whether or not to extradite the fugitive film-maker to California.

A statement by Polanski's legal team in Los Angeles said the extradition request submitted to Switzerland had omitted details of a sentencing deal agreed by lawyers and the trial judge in his 1978 child sex case.

"Roman Polanski is determined to assure that the United States' extradition request submitted to the Swiss Government is based on a complete and truthful statement of the facts of his case. Presently, it is not," a statement by lawyers Doug Dalton, Bart Dalton and Chad Hummel said.

Polanski fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing 32 years ago after fearing that the judge, Laurence Rittenband, was about to go back on a deal that would have seen the director spend no additional time behind bars.

The Oscar-winning film-maker had spent 42 days in an institution to undergo psychiatric evaluation, a stint which Rittenband had assured the director's attorneys "would be his entire sentence in the case."

"All we ask on Mr Polanski's behalf is that the Swiss be informed of this fact by the United States, a fact confirmed by every prosecutor in charge of this case up to now," Polanski's lawyers said.

The attorneys noted that retired Los Angeles Deputy District Roger Gunson had confirmed the sentencing deal in a 2005 interview for the recent documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."

Gunson again confirmed details of the deal under oath last year and Polanski's lawyers said he reaffirmed them in behind-closed-doors testimony which they unsuccessfully requested to be unsealed this week.

"None of this was disclosed to the Swiss in the extradition request," Polanski's lawyers said.

"We can only suspect that the reason for the District Attorney's deliberate omission of this information from the extradition request is that he expects that this undeniable fact, if disclosed by the United States to the Swiss, would cause them to conclude that extradition is not legally justified."

Polanski is under house arrest in Switzerland pending Bern's decision on whether he should be sent back to the United States to face sentencing.

Swiss authorities said Wednesday they were "awaiting supplementary information from the Americans," regarding the case.

"For the moment we have not received it," Swiss justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli told AFP.

Polanski was arrested in Zurich in September 2009 on a US warrant, and was jailed until he won a bid to be put under house arrest at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad while he fights extradition.

Polanski is alleged to have given 13-year-old Samantha Geimer champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor friend Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.

© 2010 AFP

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