December 16, 2014 / 11:15 AM / 3 years ago

Filmmaker Polanski's lawyers want sex crime case closed

Director Roman Polanski gestures as he speaks during a news conference for the film "La Venus a la Fourrure" (Venus in Fur) at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for filmmaker Roman Polanski have launched a new bid to have the Oscar winner’s 37-year-old child sex case closed, which would allow “The Pianist” director to travel freely without the threat of extradition.

Polanski’s attorneys filed a motion on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking a hearing next month where they would ask to submit evidence in the hopes of proving that the 81-year-old director has been subjected to “false” extradition requests by U.S. authorities.

“The true facts and circumstances surrounding Polanski’s term of incarceration and his decision to leave the country in 1978 resulted directly from judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and should no longer be covered up,” Polanski’s attorney Bart Dalton wrote in the motion.

High-profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz has also asked the court for permission to represent Polanski.

The filmmaker was charged in 1977 with raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles after plying her with champagne and drugs. He later pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor.

But the director of films “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” fled the United States to France before sentencing, fearing the judge would impose more prison time than the 42 days he had spent behind bars for a psychiatric evaluation.

Lawyers for Polanski, who has a warrant in the United States for his arrest, believe he has served his sentence and that he must not be physically present in court for the case to officially close.

The director’s lawyers have fought for years to have the case thrown out on claims that Polanski was a victim of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, issues the courts have ruled they cannot address unless he returns to California.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney said the office had no comment on the motion.

Polanski was questioned by Polish prosecutors in October after U.S. authorities requested his extradition.

The motion says prosecutors “deliberately omitted” the time Polanski served in prison in an extradition request as a way to meet the criteria of a U.S.-Poland treaty.

In 2009, he was held for 290 days under house arrest in Switzerland as authorities considered whether to extradite him to the United States.

Polanski, who spent much of his young life in Poland, has said that he plans to shoot a film about Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French military officer falsely convicted of treason, in Poland.

Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia Osterman

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