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Swiss to Hold News Conference on Polanski Extradition

Swiss to hold news conference on Polanski extradition
Director Roman Polanski who is under house arrest in his holiday home in Gstaad, Switzerland. Photographer: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The Swiss government will hold a press conference on the possible extradition of fugitive film director Roman Polanski, who fled California in 1978.

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf will hold a briefing at 2 p.m. in Bern, which will be broadcast live on the government’s website, the ministry said today in an e-mailed statement without elaborating. Polanski, whose films include “The Pianist” and “Chinatown,” is wanted in the U.S. for unlawful sexual conduct with a 13-year-old girl.

The Oscar-winning director was arrested at Zurich airport on Sept. 26, as he arrived to collect an award at the city’s film festival. Polanski, 76, was held in a Swiss jail before being placed under house arrest at his holiday home in the Alpine village of Gstaad, Switzerland. Polanski has since been forced to wear an electronic monitoring tag while awaiting the government’s decision on the U.S. extradition request.

The film director was initially charged on six felony counts alleging he drugged and raped the teenager in 1977. He later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after the lawyer for the girl’s family asked prosecutors to avoid a jury trial.

The Justice Ministry declined to give details before the press conference. Herve Temime, one of Polanski’s lawyers in Paris, and his Swiss attorney Lorenz Erni, couldn’t be reached to comment.

Sentencing Questions

His lawyers have previously said that under the U.S. extradition treaty with Switzerland, a convict may only be extradited if he faces at least six months in prison.

In May, Polanski lost a bid to have a California court release testimony by a former prosecutor that he claims shows the Los Angeles District Attorney is misleading the Swiss government about the sentence he faces. Prosecutors say he faces as long as two years in jail.

Polanski is married to French actress Emmanuelle Seigner and has two children. The French-Polish dual citizen won the Oscar for best director for the “The Pianist” in 2003.

The case is People of the State of California v. Roman Polanski, A334139, California Superior Court (Los Angeles).

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