Swiss say up to US to decide on Polanski claims

4th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Swiss authorities said Monday it is up to the United States to deal with Roman Polanski's claims that a US extradition warrant against him for a 33-year-old child sex case is based on a lie.

In a 900-word statement breaking his silence on the case, the Oscar-winning director said that he asked "only to be treated fairly like anyone else" but that US authorities wanted his head on "a platter".

"I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie," he said.

Polanski is under house arrest in Switzerland pending Bern's decision on whether he should be sent back to the United States to face a trial over the case dating back to 1977.

Swiss authorities did not react to specific points in Polanski's letter, but Folco Galli, a spokesman for the Swiss justice ministry, said that under Swiss jurisprudence the key issues in extradition cases are the facts as 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 told AFP.

Polanski had claimed in the letter that he could "no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago."

Polanski insisted in the letter that he had served the time agreed and that claims to the contrary in the extradition warrant were false.

Recent sworn testimony by Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney who handled the case three decades ago, supported his version of events, Polanski added.

Polanski claimed that the efforts to bring him back to the United States would cause further upset to the victim, who has publicly forgiven him after an out-of-court settlement.

The director is alleged to have given 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.

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

He underwent a psychiatric evaluation for 42 days 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 was 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.

A California appeals court quashed a bid last month for him to be tried in absentia, apparently exhausting his appeals options in the United States.

The Paris-based Polish filmmaker added that he had been forced to mortgage the apartment which has been his home for more than 30 years to meet his legal costs and was unable to work.

He completed his latest movie, "The Ghost Writer", at his chalet in Gstaad.

Galli said Monday that the extradition decision from Bern was pending, without giving further details on the timing.

"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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