April 29, 2010 / 9:17 PM / 9 years ago

Polanski lawyers fire new salvo in extradition

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Roman Polanski’s lawyers on Thursday opened a new front in their campaign to stop the director’s extradition to the United States, asking a judge to release records they claim will help Swiss officials decide the Oscar winner’s fate.

Director Roman Polanski reacts during a news conference to present his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Oberhausen September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Polanski, 76, is under house arrest in Switzerland awaiting extradition to face sentencing in Los Angeles for a more than 30-year-old sex crime. Last week, a California judge denied a request by his attorneys to sentence him in his absence.

That decision was seen as clearing the way for the director of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Pianist” to be returned to the United States. Swiss officials have been waiting for the end of proceedings in California before moving forward themselves.

But in the motion filed on Thursday, Polanski’s attorneys argue that Swiss officials do not have all the information necessary to make an informed decision because they lack transcripts from key depositions from a former prosecutor on the Polanski case.

“The transcripts will prove conclusively that the extradition request made by the United States to the Swiss government is premised upon false and materially incomplete statements,” Polanski attorney Chad Hummel wrote the court.

Those transcripts have been sealed, and Polanski’s attorneys want to be able to see them, copy them and share them with the Swiss. They hope that in doing so, authorities in Switzerland will ultimately deny extradition.

Hummel was not immediately available for further comment.

In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles, but he fled the country in 1978 when he believed the judge in the case was going to sentence him to more time in jail than he had already served.

In recent years, evidence has been unearthed that suggests the judge, who has since died, may have acted improperly. Polanski’s attorneys have argued that because of the judge’s actions, the case should be dismissed.

Prosecutors have claimed, and a California judge has agreed, that even if the judge acted improperly, Polanski must return to the United States to face the court.

In September, Los Angeles prosecutors asked Swiss officials to arrest and extradite Polanski, and he is currently confined to his Swiss home while the legal wrangling continues.

Editing by Jill Serjeant and Cynthia Osterman

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