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BERLIN — A Swiss court Tuesday denied bail to Roman Polanski, meaning the 76-year-old director will remain in custody while he awaits a ruling on his extradition to the United States for having unlawful sex with a minor back in 1977.
The court said Polanski, who fled the U.S. in 1978 before he was tried on the charge, was still too much a flight risk. Something Polanski’s French lawyer Herve Temime fervently denies.
“What everyone forgets is that if Roman Polanski fled 32 years ago, it was because he felt betrayed by the American justice system,” Temime told Swiss television. “What one forgets is that 32 years ago, no one in the world wanted him to go to jail, not even for one day. For the past 32 years he has demonstrated to what extent he is not a danger to anyone, to what extent he is not a ‘sex criminal’ as one often hears.”
Polanski, who won the best director Oscar in 2002 for his Holocaust drama “The Pianist,” was arrested in Zurich last month en route to a film festival, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award.
In arguing for his release on bail, Temime told the court that a prolonged detention could lead to a loss of some $40 million for investors in Polanski’s upcoming film “The Ghost” if the director can’t finish it in time for its planned February premiere.
The film’s producers say post-production for “The Ghost” — a political thriller based on the best-seller by Robert Harris and starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor — is on schedule. The team is thought to be coordinating the work with Polanski via telephone from his cell.
Polanksi put up his Swiss holiday home as security in his bail bid but it wasn’t enough.
The court said the fact the director could be facing up to 50 years in a U.S. prison and a prolonged separation from his wife and children made him a flight risk. Swiss authorities noted how easy it would be for Polanski to slip over the border to France to avoid extradition.
Temime said he will appeal the decision. Polanski’s lawyers can also submit a new bail proposal, possibly combining bail with some form of house arrest and electronic monitoring to prevent him from fleeing.
U.S. authorities have until the end of November to make a firm extradition request. If Polanski challenges the extradition, the process could be tied up in the Swiss courts for years.
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