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US prosecutors want Polanski appeal dismissed

LOS Angeles prosecutors have asked a judge to dismiss an appeal filed by Roman Polanski before his recent arrest in Switzerland, saying the issues he presented no longer apply.

Head Deputy District Attorney Irene Wakabayashi and Deputy District Attorney Phyllis C. Asayama argued in a letter to the California Second District Court of Appeal that the sole business before the court now was whether to hold a hearing without the presence of Polanski, who is challenging extradition to the United States.

They noted that Polanski's lawyers asked the court to schedule expedited oral arguments on the issue of whether Polanski must be present in a California court for consideration of his appeal, in which he requests dismissal of a 32-year-old case where he pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a teenager.

"Because of petitioner's subsequent arrest, the question posed is now academic," said the letter, which was sent Wednesday and made public yesterday. "Petitioner will be extradited and able to be physically present to make the request and to be present at a hearing."

The director of such film classics as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" has been wanted by US authorities since fleeing sentencing 31 years ago.

Polanski was arrested on a fugitive warrant Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive an award from a film festival. Switzerland says there has been an international warrant out on him since 2005.

Paperwork attached to the letter included correspondence in which Polanski's lawyers indicated that they met with US Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz last week and urged that the government not submit a formal extradition request to Switzerland for Polanski's return. They contended that he has already fully served his sentence for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

They also said that Polanski's arrest, which came after the appeallate court accepted his case for consideration, indicated that his pursuit of appellate rights improperly led to his arrest.

The 76-year-old director lost his first bid for release on bail this week, but his lawyers are pursuing other avenues.

Polanski was accused of plying the underage girl with champagne and part of a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977, and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy.

He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence him to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation.

However, he was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again.

The judge responded by saying he was going to send Polanski back to jail for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to agree to a "voluntary deportation." Polanski then fled the country, on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was scheduled to be sentenced to the additional time.


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