Polanski appeals against extradition over sex case

Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:05pm EDT
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By Emma Thomasson

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lawyers for Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski lodged an appeal with a Swiss court on Tuesday against his arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant to face sentence for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

The Swiss Federal Penal Court said in a brief statement on its website that it would make a decision on the appeal within the "next few weeks" after an exchange of written motions and would not give more information on the case in the meantime.

Polanski, 76, who has dual French and Polish citizenship, was arrested on Saturday on a U.S. warrant by authorities in Switzerland, where the "Chinatown" director was set to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

His Swiss lawyer, Lorenz Erni, told Reuters Polanski would fight the extradition and that while the filmmaker was fine, the detention was very tough for him. Erni declined to comment on how long Polanski might remain in prison.

A Swiss justice ministry spokesman said on Monday it was theoretically possible that Polanski could be released on bail, although that was very unlikely.

The complex extradition process could take years if Polanski challenges it, U.S. judicial sources said on Monday. U.S. authorities have up to 60 days to make a firm extradition request.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey told a news conference in Berne that her office had not been informed in advance of Polanski's arrest, which had "lacked finesse" and had looked bad.

Switzerland had acted in accordance with the law, but could have acted with more tact, as Polanski was in Switzerland to attend a film festival where the Culture Minister was also due to speak.   Continued...

<p>File photo of film Director Roman Polanski attending a news conference to present his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Berlin October 11, 2006. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/files</p>