Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Polanski’s lawyers ask court to free him from custody

AP , ZURICH

Roman Polanski’s legal team fired the first shot on Tuesday in a lengthy battle over his possible extradition to the US, asking a Swiss court to release the renowned filmmaker from prison immediately.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court announced the filing and said a decision would be made “within the next weeks,” but experts said a swift release was unlikely and it appeared that the 76-year-old director could remain in jail for at least a few months.

Even if the court rules in Polanski’s favor, the decision would probably be appealed immediately by the Swiss government, extending his incarceration in a Zurich cell.

Meanwhile in Poland, the prime minister urged restraint after two days of heated calls from government officials for Polanski’s release. French leaders who had also been outspoken in support of the filmmaker said their consul had visited him in detention.

Authorities in Los Angeles consider Polanski a convicted felon and a fugitive, and Switzerland says there has been an international arrest warrant out on him since 2005.

Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and Quaaludes during a modeling shoot in 1977 and raping her.

Experts predicted that Polanski had little hope of winning his freedom in Switzerland. On top of the court proceedings his team initiated on Tuesday, Polanski will also have to face a formal US extradition request that has not yet been received by the Swiss.

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