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October 21, 2009

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Swiss court keeps Polanski in jail as 'high' flight risk

ROMAN Polanski lost his appeal yesterday to be released from a Swiss jail, as a Swiss court rejected multiple offers from the 76-year-old director to post bail or go under house arrest to reassure authorities that he would stay in the country.

The Federal Criminal Court said Polanski poses too "high" a flight risk to be freed and that even his Swiss chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad was insufficient collateral to guard against his escape.

The acclaimed filmmaker is considered a convicted felon and a fugitive by authorities in Los Angeles, and the United States is seeking his extradition for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

He was arrested by the Swiss on September 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival.

"The court considered the risk that Roman Polanski might flee if released from custody as high," the federal court said.

"The bail offered by the appellant does not meet in its form the requirements set out by the law."

Still, the tribunal in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona left open several possibilities for Polanski to challenge its verdict in what is expected to be a lengthy legal battle over his extradition.

Polanski has 10 days to appeal the decision on his release to Switzerland's highest tribunal. He can also continue attempts to persuade the Swiss Justice Ministry to release him.

More court proceedings are expected after Washington files its formal extradition request, which it has until November 25 to submit.

Polanski's attorney said yesterday's court decision was a disappointment.

"It's probable that Mr Polanski will appeal," Herve Temime told reporters in Paris. "I repeat that Mr Polanski has firmly and strongly stated that he will remain in Switzerland during the entire extradition procedure, regardless of its outcome."


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