Polanski's US lawyers call for 'fair and impartial' probe

15th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers for fugitive film director Roman Polanski Wednesday called for a "fair and impartial" probe into alleged prosecutorial misconduct that led Polanski to flee the US after pleading guilty to statutory rape 33 years ago.

Switzerland Monday turned down what it said was a flawed US extradition request for Polanski, releasing him from house arrest nine months after he was arrested on an international arrest warrant.

His lawyers said the extradition request failed to mention testimony in March by a former prosecutor proving that a trial judge in 1977 had agreed to punish Polanski only with time served in a California jail.

Polanski had pleaded guilty to having sex with the underaged girl after plying her with drugs and champagne in 1977. When he found out the judge had reneged on the deal, he fled the country and has been a fugitive ever since.

"On behalf of Mr Polanski, we had repeatedly asked both the Los Angeles District Attorney and the US Justice Department to agree to provide this testimony to the Swiss and we were rebuffed, as was the request by the Swiss government," the lawyers said in a statement.

The testimony was kept from Swiss authorities, they added, because it "could have undermined the legality of the extradition request."

The lawyers said the district attorney has also not complied with a California court of appeal ruling in December that the Polanski case be investigated given the "highly improper" and "profoundly unethical" prosecutorial and judicial misconduct it included.

"It has not taken place," the lawyers added.

"That investigation can and should be conducted now by a fair and impartial third party, including even a commission appointed by the governor's office or the attorney general, and the results should be made public.

"As officers of the court, we again urge that a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of this case take place now, including into the reasons why the specific request for information made by the Swiss was not honored."

US officials on Tuesday said they were "disappointed" with Switzerland's refusal to extradite Polanski, and vowed to keep seeking justice against the French-Polish director, who has been a fugitive since he fled before sentencing.

Also Tuesday, the woman who as a 13-year old was drugged and forced to have sex with Polanski urged US prosecutors to drop the decades-old underage sex charges against the director.

"Enough is enough. This matter should have been resolved 33 years ago," Samantha Geimer told The Los Angeles Times in an interview.

Geimer, who has in the past publicly forgiven Polanski, said that she does not feel the director poses a threat.

"At 76 years old? I don't think so," she told the newspaper.

© 2010 AFP

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