Rape case: Polanski has to wait up to 90 days

A judge will take up to three months to make a ruling on a defence attorney's request to find that Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has already served more than enough time behind bars.
Roman Polanski was arrested on US warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade, but both countries declined to extradite him.
Roman Polanski was arrested on US warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade, but both countries declined to extradite him.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES • Fugitive movie director Roman Polanski will have to wait up to three months to hear whether he can resolve his four-decade-old rape case without serving more jail time in the United States.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon on Monday heard arguments from prosecutors and Polanski's lawyer on the latest bid to end the case, but said he would reserve making any decision for up to 90 days.

Attorney Harland Braun asked Mr Gordon to rule that Polanski fulfilled his time behind bars in 1977, when he served 42 days ahead of sentencing for the rape of a 13-year-old girl. With that assurance, the Rosemary's Baby director would fly from Paris immediately to the US for sentencing, Mr Braun said.

The case of French-Polish Polanski has been a cause celebre for 40 years. Following his guilty plea in 1977 and time in jail, he fled the US, fearing a plea bargain with the authorities at that time would be overruled and that he would get a lengthy jail term.

"He knows what he was promised in the sentencing. He knows the time he's done. He's not trying to bargain," Mr Braun told Monday's hearing."Mr Polanski is 83 and just wants to settle this case, wants it over with. The crime that he committed is indefensible. He's never tried to deny it," he added.

Los Angeles prosecutors, however, said Polanski was asking for special treatment and there should be no discussion on what sentence he would get until he returns to the US.

"This case is 40 years old because the defendant fled. Not only did he flee, he's fought all efforts to get him to return. (We) simply don't believe it's in the best interest to give a wealthy celebrity any different treatment than any other fugitive," said Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee.

Polanski was arrested on US warrants in Poland and Switzerland in the last decade, but both countries declined to extradite him. Ms Samantha Geimer, the victim in the case, has long made clear she believes Polanski's self-imposed exile has been punishment enough.

Mr Braun has said Polanski wants to be able to travel freely and to be able to visit the grave of his wife, Sharon Tate, in the US. She was murdered in Los Angeles by followers of cult leader Charles Manson in 1969.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'Rape case: Polanski has to wait up to 90 days'. Print Edition | Subscribe