LA Court wants Polanski to return for sentencing

MUMBAI: Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski lost his latest bid to be sentenced while outside the United States for having unlawful sex with a minor more than three decades ago.

Affirming the decision of a Los Angeles judge in January, a state appeals court ruled that the filmmaker must return to California before he can be sentenced and bring his 33-year-long legal saga to a close.

The director fled the United States for his native France in 1978 and is now fighting extradition from Switzerland.

The appellate panel found that Polanski "failed to demonstrate" that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza lacked the discretion to refuse his request to remain abroad while the case against him was concluded.

Denial of his appeal to be sentenced in absentia came shortly after the same court rejected a separate petition filed by the woman who was his victim at age 13 to have the case dismissed altogether.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor but fled the country before sentencing, fearing the judge would renege on a plea agreement limiting his punishment to 42 days he already had spent behind bars for psychiatric evaluation.

He has since lived as a fugitive in Europe, facing the prospect of arrest the moment he set foot back on U.S. soil while continuing his film career. In 2003, he won an Oscar for best director for the acclaimed Holocaust film The Pianist.

His latest film, The Ghost Writer won him the best director prize at the Berlin film festival in February.

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