Swiss won't decide on Polanski extradition until 2010

Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:53pm EST
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will decide next year whether to extradite film director Roman Polanski to the United States for sentencing over a 1977 case of unlawful sex with a minor, the Justice Ministry said on Wednesday.

"There will be nothing more this year. At the earliest we'll make an announcement early next year as to whether the criteria for extradition have been met," said Folco Galli, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry.

Galli said Polanski would remain under house arrest at his chalet in the skiing resort of Gstaad until then.

The 76-year-old Oscar-winning director, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was arrested at the request of the United States when he flew into Switzerland on September 26 to receive a lifetime achievement prize at a film festival.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl but fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing because he believed a judge might put him in jail for 50 years.

Polanski could appeal the ministry's decision, potentially dragging out the dispute for months. After two months in a Swiss jail, he was released into house arrest on December 4.

Last week, Polanski's U.S. lawyers argued for the dismissal of the film director's guilty plea citing judicial misconduct.

The maker of films including "The Pianist" in 2002 for which he won an Academy Award, "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" could face two years in a California prison.

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley, editing by Paul Casciato)