Court rejects Polanski's appeal bid

With his latest appeal rejected, Roman Polanski's fate once again lies in the hands of Swiss authorities. A California appeals court has rejected his bid to have his case reviewed by a special counsel or to be sentenced in absentia.

The Swiss Justice Ministry had been waiting for the court's ruling before deciding whether to allow the Oscar-winning director to be returned to Los Angeles for sentencing on his 33-year-old sex case.

But a Swiss official said yesterday that the ministry wouldn't rush into a decision. If it ultimately approves extradition, Polanski could still lodge court appeals in Switzerland that would delay his return to the US for months.

Polanski has been under house arrest for months at his chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad as his lawyers repeatedly sought to win the director's freedom in Los Angeles courtrooms. They have argued that he shouldn't have to be present to be sentenced on one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.

The recent appeal focused on newly obtained testimony from a former prosecutor who felt the original judge handling Polanski's case acted improperly. That testimony remains sealed. Polanski was accused in 1977 of plying Samantha Geimer, then aged 13, with champagne and part of a sedative pill, then raping her at the actor Jack Nicholson's house.

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