Extradition yet to be decided, legal eagle says

Roman Polanski’s attorneys are pushing back against the efforts of Los Angeles prosecutors to extradite the director, now that an appeals court has rejected his request to be sentenced in absentia.

Douglas Dalton, who is a member of Polanski’s legal team in L.A., issued a statement Friday reiterating that the Court of Appeal decision “did not decide the question of extradition.”

The formal U.S. extradition request unquestionably contains a false sworn statement by Los Angeles prosecutors about Mr. Polanski’s punishment, which we have asked the United States Dept. of Justice and the Swiss authorities to investigate,” Dalton said. “The D.A.’s office has known the true facts for over 30 years.”

Swiss authorities may decide soon whether to extradite Polanski to the United States, as they had been awaiting a decision from California courts on whether the director could be sentenced without being present.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal denied Polanski’s petition Thursday but did not issue a written opinion. Earlier in the day, the same appeals panel denied a request by Polanski’s alleged victim, Samantha Geimer, to have the case dismissed.

State authorities have been seeking Polanski’s extradition from Switzerland so he can be sentenced on the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. The director fled the U.S. on the eve of sentencing in 1978.

Dalton’s statement furthers his legal team’s contention that the director already has served his time, but the original judge who was to sentence him, Laurence Rittenband, reneged on a plea agreement before the director jumped bail. The length of Polanski’s sentence is a crucial point for Swiss authorities, as it must meet a minimum threshold under the terms of the extradition treaty.

(Ted Johnson contributed to this report.)

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