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Switzerland must free Polanski: lawyer

Switzerland must free filmmaker Roman Polanski “once and for all”, his lawyer said Saturday, after a US court quashed a bid by the director to be tried in absentia for his child sex case.

The Oscar-winning director is under house arrest in Switzerland, after being arrested in Zurich in September on a US arrest warrant for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

A California appeals court on Thursday rejected a bid by the French-Polish film director to be tried in absentia for the case, technically clearing a legal hurdle in the way of a Swiss ruling on his extradition.

“It is up to the Swiss authorities to tell the truth and give back Roman Polanski his freedom once and for all, regardless of the roar and unbearable pressure of an ill-informed public,” Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime said in a statement to AFP.

Swiss authorities said in February that a decision on whether to extradite Polanski could not be made until the filmmaker exhausts his US appeals.

A Los Angeles judge in January initially denied Polanski’s bid to be sentenced in absentia.

Extradition proceedings could take about a year, once appeals by Polanski against his return — or by US authorities if a Swiss decision was negative — have been heard by Switzerland’s highest courts.

Polanski has been confined to his chalet in the western Swiss resort of Gstaad since being released from custody on December 4.