Polanski lawyers say extradition request unfair

Suggest possibility of director's return to U.S.

Roman Polanski's lawyers issued a lengthy statement Wednesday faulting a request for his extradition from Switzerland as incomplete and unfair.

They said, however, that if true and complete facts were presented to Swiss officials and they determined extradition was justified, then the director would return to the United States to litigate his case.

It was the first time in the long legal battle that the team of lawyers has mentioned Polanski possibly returning voluntarily. But it was couched in language that suggested this remains unlikely.

"If, after a fair hearing in Switzerland at which the entire record of this case is truthfully presented, the Swiss determine that extradition is justified, Mr. Polanski will of course comply with a lawful extradition order and return to California to litigate the issues of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct and be finally sentenced under the law," the statement said.

"Such a lawful order should be based on the entire record of the California proceedings, not the misleading and incomplete record provided to date," it added.

The Academy Award-winning director remains under house arrest in Geneva in a 33-year-old sex case. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, but after a judge said he would renege on a promised sentence agreement, Polanski fled to his native France. He has been a fugitive since.

The statement by lawyers Douglas Dalton, Brad Dalton and Chad Hummel had a tone of exasperation saying all they wanted was for Swiss authorities to know about the actions of the now-deceased judge in the case, specifically his intent to treat a 90-day diagnostic study in prison as Polanski's entire punishment.

Polanski's lawyers maintain that Los Angeles prosecutors are hiding this fact from the Swiss.

"All we ask on Mr. Polanski's behalf is that the Swiss be informed of this fact by the United States, a fact confirmed by every prosecutor in charge of this case up to now," the statement said.

The lawyers have presented numerous legal briefs on the issue and took the case to a California appellate court which, while making no order, suggested it was time for the marathon case to be resolved.

In a section of the appellate decision quoted in the statement, the justices said that the question of actions by the late Judge Laurence J. Rittenband were relevant.

If the claims regarding the diagnostic study are true, the appeals court said, "The trial court could find that justice requires ... that Polanski should be sentenced to time served."

Polanski's lawyers said the information was purposely omitted from the extradition request prepared for the U.S. State Department by the Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley's office.

"We can only suspect that the reason for the District Attorney's deliberate omission of this information from the extradition request is that he expects that this undeniable fact, if disclosed by the United States to the Swiss, would cause them to conclude that extradition is not legally justified," said the statement.

Earlier this week, Polanski's lawyers lost a bid to unseal secret testimony from retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson during which he discussed Rittenband's actions. Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said the conditional examination of Gunson will not be released unless Polanski returns for a hearing and Gunson is unavailable to testify in person.

Swiss authorities have not said when they would rule on the extradition filing. The statement said Swiss authorities have requested supplemental information from the United States before making a decision.