A Los Angeles judge has said French-Polish film director Roman Polanski must return to the US to be sentenced in a three-decade-old child sex case.
Polanski has been held under house arrest at his Swiss chalet since December
Judge Peter Espinoza rejected a request by Polanski to be sentenced in absentia. The judge stated unequivocally that the only way the 1978 case could be resolved is if Polanski returned to California.
"I choose to insist in defense of the integrity of the judicial system. He needs to appear," Espinoza said. "I've made it clear he needs to surrender.... Motion is denied."
The Oscar-winning film-maker's lawyers told reporters immediately after the hearing that they would appeal the decision.
Under house arrest
Polanski, 76, is under house arrest in Switzerland, where he has been held since his detention in September on an international arrest warrant.
US prosecutors have been seeking his extradition since 1978 when he fled the country before he could be sentenced after admitting to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski is alleged to have given his victim champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot before having sex with her despite her protests.
The victim in the case, Samantha Geimer, now a 46-year-old mother of three, had supported Polanski's in absentia request, having previously urged that the case be dropped.
However, prosecutors last week filed a motion opposing any move to sentence the French-Polish film-maker in absentia, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent.
"The defendant is a fugitive," Deputy District Attorney David Walgren wrote in court papers. "The defendant should not, indeed must not, be allowed to dictate to this court or any other court, under what terms these proceedings should proceed. Mr. Polanski must surrender."
Polanski, whose arrest last year triggered heated debate in European film industry, is known for the films "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar