WARSAW (AFP) - The United States has asked Poland to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to raping a 13-year-old but left the country before sentencing, Polish prosecutors said Wednesday.
The move comes months after the US attempted to have the French-Polish filmmaker arrested for sex offences when he travelled to Warsaw for the opening of a Jewish museum in October.
Polish prosecutors questioned the 81-year-old maker of The Pianist and Chinatown but allowed him to walk free.
The extradition request was sent on Monday and will be transferred over to the regional prosecutors handling the case, according to Mateusz Martyniuk, spokesman for the general prosecutor's office.
"The first prosecutors will do is question Polanski," he told AFP, while refusing to give the filmmaker's location at the moment.
Polanski was accused of raping Samantha Geimer after a photo shoot in 1977 when he was 43 years old.
He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence.
US officials have pressed for his extradition regularly to no avail.
Polanski, who became a French citizen in 1976 after moving there from Poland, was arrested in Switzerland on an international arrest warrant in 2009. He was released after being held for months.
Polanski's lawyers recently requested a new hearing to try and close the case on procedural grounds, but a Los Angeles judge refused to reopen the case last month.
Polanski's lawyer Jerzy Stachowicz told AFP on Wednesday he was aware of the extradition request and refused to say whether his client was currently in Poland.
A Polish court will examine the extradition request. A rejection would mean the case is closed. But if the court approves the request, it will be up to the justice ministry to give the final go-ahead.
Martyniuk told AFP in October that Polanski's extradition was still possible because "the statute of limitations does not apply to US requests".
Geimer wrote a book about her encounter with Polanski in 2013, in which she said she was made to drink champagne and was given a sleeping pill before being raped by Polanski in the house of actor Jack Nicholson.