GENEVA - Swiss authorities will not extradite Roman Polanski to the United States until courts in Los Angeles rule definitively that the director must face further sentencing in person in a 32-year-old sex case, a senior official said yesterday.
In a new twist in Polanski’s long legal saga, the Swiss Justice Ministry’s deputy director said it would make “no sense’’ to remove him from house arrest at his Alpine chalet while he seeks to resolve his US case in absentia for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski’s lawyers maintain that the filmmaker served his full sentence in 1978 when he underwent a diagnostic study at a California prison for 42 days. Los Angeles courts have disagreed and Polanski’s lawyers have promised to appeal.
“When the question is still open, why should he be extradited?’’ Rudolf Wyss asked. told “As long as the question is still open, our decision depends on that.’’
Wyss spoke the same day that Polanski’s latest film, “The Ghost Writer,’’ was to debut at the annual Berlin film festival. The director won’t be on hand for the premiere, or a press conference featuring the thriller’s stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, because he is under house arrest at his chalet in the luxury Swiss resort of Gstaad.
Polanski, 76, lost a bid last month to be sentenced in Los Angeles without returning when a judge ruled he must be present if he wanted to resolve the case. Referring to Polanski as a fugitive, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said he was acting to protect “the dignity of the court.’’
Polanski was initially accused of raping the girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude during a 1977 modeling shoot. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation, and sodomy. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse.