Prosecutors urge rejection of new Polanski request

Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:20pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors urged a California appeals court to reject director Roman Polanski's request to be sentenced without returning to the United States, in the latest salvo in a decades-old legal battle over his sex crime against a 13-year-old girl.

In a court filing late on Tuesday, Los Angeles prosecutors lashed out at defense attorneys who recently asked the appeals court to sentence the Oscar-winning filmmaker while he is under house arrest in Switzerland.

Defense lawyers, in their appeal on March 18, repeated allegations of misconduct by a former judge in the case, who is now deceased, and further said that prosecutors knew of the problem for more than 30 years and hid it from the defense.

In their reply on Tuesday, prosecutors brushed aside those arguments and said they disclosed what they knew.

"The specter of a defendant sitting in a Swiss chalet while making demands upon the judicial system hurts the integrity of the judicial system just as much as the revelations of 30 year-old charges of misconduct by a long ago deceased jurist," the prosecutors wrote.

Polanski, the director of "Chinatown" and "The Pianist," pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor girl in 1977, but fled the U.S. before sentencing in 1978. He has been sought by U.S. authorities since then, and this past September was arrested in Switzerland.

The celebrity director is now confined to his home in the ski resort of Gstaad, and Swiss officials have said they are awaiting results of U.S. legal proceedings before deciding whether to extradite him.

This newest filing marks the second time since Polanski's arrest that prosecutors and defense attorneys have been embroiled in proceedings before a California appeals court.

In December, the appeals court suggested he could be sentenced without returning to the United States, but a lower court judge later declined to follow that suggestion causing defense attorneys to file this month's appeal.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Alan Elsner)