Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Polanski court case put on hold

Roman Polanski
Polanski's films include Repulsion, Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby

A California appeals court has granted a request by Roman Polanski's lawyer to stop a hearing on the film director's attempt to dismiss a 1977 rape case.

A dismissal hearing had been scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

But Mr Polanski's lawyer sought a stay, claiming the entire court was biased against the veteran film-maker.

Mr Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 but fled to France before sentencing.

Since then he has been unable to return to the US for fear of arrest.


The 2nd District Court of Appeal issued the stay on Tuesday in response to an 11th-hour motion by Mr Polanski's attorney, Chad Hummel.

Samantha Geimer
Samantha Geimer called for the case to be dropped last week
Mr Hummel argued a neutral judge from outside Los Angeles County should be appointed after a Superior Court spokesman said Mr Polanski was required to be present for his hearing.

This, the attorney claimed, showed the court had prejudged the case and was biased against his client.

The court has asked the prosecution to submit written arguments on the issue before 30 January.

The Polish-born director's legal team are basing their bid on Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, a 2008 documentary that was part-funded by the BBC.

They claim the film revealed "judicial and prosecutorial misconduct [that] so distorted the legal process that the interests of justice can only be served with complete dismissal of the case".


Samantha Geimer - the victim of the statutory rape case - has asked the charges against the film director be dropped.

In a written declaration, the 45-year-old said the court's insistence that Mr Polanski appeared for the dismissal hearing in person was "a cruel joke".

The director has lived in France since fleeing the US in 1978 and has avoided making films in the UK because of the danger of extradition.

In 2002 he was named best director at the Academy Awards for his Holocaust drama The Pianist, an honour accepted on his behalf by actor Harrison Ford.

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