Swiss say up to US authorities to look into Polanski claims

3rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland said Monday that it was up to the United States to examine claims in an open letter by Roman Polanski that a US demand for his extradition over a child sex case was based on a lie.

Folco Galli, a spokesman for the Swiss justice ministry, said that the key points in extradition cases are the facts laid out by the country making the request.

"According to this request, the points are clear: in this procedure, Roman Polanski has said that he is guilty and he is wanted by the US authorities.

"It is incumbent upon US authorities to examine the points criticised by Polanski in this article," he added.

Polanski, who is under house arrest in Switzerland pending extradition, said in the letter published on Sunday that the US extradition request "is founded on a lie."

The director is alleged to have given his victim 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.

Polanski was initially charged with six felony counts, but that charge was later reduced to unlawful sexual intercourse in a plea bargain.

He served 42 days at a secure unit undergoing psychiatric evaluation but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing hearing.

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

Galli said Monday that the extradition decision was pending, without giving further details.

"The decision would not be executory. Polanski can appeal," he added.

Any extradition process could take about a year once likely appeals by Polanski against his return had been heard by Switzerland's highest courts, Swiss authorities have said.

© 2010 AFP

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