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Swiss govt announcing Polanski extradition decision

Swiss govt announcing Polanski extradition decision

Zurich: Switzerland will announce on Monday whether it will return Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski to the United States to face sentencing for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl over three decades ago.

The Swiss justice ministry said it would announce its decision at a news conference at 1200 GMT in Berne on Monday, to be attended by justice minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

Polanski, 76, who won a best director Oscar for his moving portrait of life in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto of World War Two in “The Pianist", would have the right to appeal against extradition.

The announcement follows months of uncertainty over whether Polanski would have to return to the United States after having been arrested in September 2009 upon arrival in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

His arrest propted an outcry in the global film industry and in some political circles in France, where he has been a long-time resident, with directors from Woody Allen to Martin Scorsese to Jean-Luc Godard showing public support for Polanski.

Wife murdered

After a short jail stint, Polanski, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was put under house arrest in December 2009 at his chalet in luxury ski resort Gstaad while Swiss officials awaited the outcome of US legal proceedings.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl but fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing because he believed a judge might overrule his plea and put him in jail for 50 years.

Polanski has lived in Europe ever since, facing the prospect of arrest the moment he set foot back on US soil while continuing his film career outside Hollywood.

Born to Polish-Jewish parents in 1933, his life was marked by a narrow escape from the Krakow ghetto and by the murder of his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, by followers of cult leader Charles Manson in 1969.

Polanski is also known for classics such as “Chinatown", which earned 11 Oscar nominations, and “Rosemary’s Baby".

He completed his latest film “The Ghost", based on a Robert Harris’s best-seller, while under arrest in Switzerland.

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