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Polanski seeks dismissal of child sex charge

Lawyers for Roman Polanski, a fugitive for 30 years in a notorious sex case involving a 13-year-old girl, filed a request in Los Angeles to dismiss the charge against him because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

The motion alleges that a documentary about the filmmaker released earlier this year revealed "a pattern of misconduct and improper communications" between the district attorney's office and the judge in Polanski's case.

"This case serves as a classic example of how our justice system can be abused, and defendants' rights trampled, by an unholy alliance between courts and criminal prosecutors," said a statement from attorneys Chad Hummel and Brad Dalton.

Mr Dalton is the son of attorney Doug Dalton, who represented Polanski in the original case.

Poland-born Polanski, 75, has been living in France in self-imposed exile from the United States since fleeing in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.

He was initially indicted on six felony counts and faced up to life in prison.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and five other counts were dismissed.

Polanski, who had already been incarcerated for a psychological diagnosis, skipped sentencing that would have sent him back to prison and fled to France.

The judge issued a warrant for his arrest that is still in effect. The maximum sentence was 50 years, although prosecutors had said at the time that the typical sentence was 16 months to three years in prison.

Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley, said her office had not been served with the motion and only heard about it through media reports. She said the office could not take a position until they see the legal papers.

"We're looking forward to seeing Mr Polanski in Los Angeles to litigate it," she said.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Polanski, the director of Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby, has continued to direct films while in exile, including the 2002 Holocaust drama The Pianist, for which he won the best-director Academy Award.

The woman with whom Polanski admitted having sexual intercourse has said she wants the charge dropped and that Polanski should be allowed to return to the United States.

The new effort to wipe out the charge comes in the wake of an HBO documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired in which the man who prosecuted Polanski, retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, said that if he had been in Polanski's position, he also would have fled the country.

The case was a sensation when it broke.

Polanski, the widower of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, was arrested for having sex with the girl he hired as a model for a photo shoot.

He was accused of giving her Quaaludes, taking her into a hot tub nude and having sex with her.