GENEVA - Roman Polanski’s three decades as a fugitive are coming back to haunt him.
Noting his previous escape from US authorities, Switzerland’s top criminal court yesterday rejected Polanski’s appeal to be released from prison because of the “high’’ risk that the 76-year-old director would try to flee again.
Polanski’s offers of bail, house arrest, and electronic monitoring failed to sway the tribunal. Even a Swiss chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad was brushed aside as insufficient collateral to guard against Polanski fleeing the country, as the United States seeks to have him extradited for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
“The appellant has already once in 1978 eluded American criminal proceedings by traveling to Europe,’’ the Federal Criminal Court said in its 17-page verdict, adding that Polanski’s transfer to the United States could also cause family trauma and cost investors millions of dollars in losses.
“As a result, the motivation to flee is high,’’ it said.
Yesterday’s ruling was another setback to the Oscar-winning director’s battle to avoid facing authorities in Los Angeles, where he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl.
“It’s probable that Mr. Polanski will appeal,’’ Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime told reporters in Paris. “I repeat that Mr. Polanski has firmly and strongly stated that he will remain in Switzerland during the entire extradition procedure, regardless of its outcome.’’
Meanwhile, newly released documents show that Swiss authorities set in motion the arrest of fugitive director Roman Polanski. A series of e-mails obtained by the Associated Press show that the Swiss tipped off their US counterparts about Polanski’s imminent arrival at a Zurich film festival.
The Sept. 22 tip culminated four days later with Polanski’s arrest.
US authorities had declined to say how they learned of Polanski’s trip to Zurich, but a public records request shows the information came from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice.
The new details again raise the question of why Switzerland decided to go after Polanski now, even though the director had beeb a frequent visitor to that nation.