Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Polanski loses bid to avoid US court appearance

Roman Polanski
The 76-year-old film-maker is fighting extradition to the US

Film director Roman Polanski has lost his bid to be sentenced in a US court without having to return.

He faces an arrest warrant over his conviction, 32 years ago, for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

A judge ruled on Friday that Mr Polanski, 76, must be present in court if he wants to resolve the case.

Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said he was acting to protect "the dignity of the court." Mr Polanski's lawyer said he would appeal the ruling.

Mr Polanski was arrested in Switzerland last September over his 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

He left the US in 1978 before he could be sentenced and has never returned.

Judge stands firm

The director, who was originally charged with six offences including rape and sodomy, pleaded guilty to unlawful sex following a plea bargain in 1977.

He is under house arrest and is fighting extradition.

In the past year, his legal team has had a request turned down to have a hearing on the rape charge heard outside the US.

Mr Polanski's lawyer Chad Hummel and Lawrence Silver, who represents victim Samantha Geimer, tried to convince the judge to change his mind.

But Judge Espinoza cited a law stating that someone who fled was not entitled to the processes of the court unless they returned.

'Prolonged suffering'

Mr Silver told the court Ms Geimer wanted the case to be over.

"I implore you to end the 32-year prolonged suffering of this victim," he said, citing a state constitution amendment known as Marcy's Law, meant to protect victims' rights in criminal cases.

But the judge said he did not think that particular law "was ever intended for this use" and found that her rights had not been violated in the current proceeding.

The director's 2002 drama The Pianist, a story of a virtuoso's escape from a Warsaw ghetto during World War II, won the prestigious Palme D'Or award at Cannes and also the best director Oscar.

His most recent works include The Ghost Writer, about a writer hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister.

In 2005 he directed a remake of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist.

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