GENEVA – Roman Polanski has re-appealed to the Swiss courts to be released from prison on bail, officials said Tuesday, the latest step in the director's protracted legal battle to avoid extradition to the United States.
The Swiss Criminal Court declined to comment on the contents of the appeal, but the Justice Ministry said it was an offer that the government has already turned down in part because it lacked a cash guarantee.
Folco Galli, the Justice Ministry spokesman, said it was an appeal of a release request that was rejected last week. Such re-appeals are common under Swiss law.
The 76-year-old filmmaker has suffered a string of setbacks since he was arrested Sept. 26 in Zurich as he arrived to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival. Authorities in Los Angeles want him extradited for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
The court confirmed Tuesday that it received the appeal, a day after a lawyer for Polanski said the request had been filed and included adequate guarantees that he would not flee justice if released. Attorney Herve Temime had earlier said the appeal would include a significant cash amount, but did not repeat the claim on Monday.
Court official Patrick Guidon declined to say when a verdict might be expected.
Polanski is asking for the Swiss court to reverse the government's decision to reject bail because of the high risk he would flee the country, Galli said.
"At this moment, we have no new bail offer," Galli said.
Swiss legal experts say Polanski has little hope of being released in Switzerland, but that a bail offer without a cash guarantee would have no chance.
The Swiss Criminal Court has already ruled once against Polanski, ordering him kept in jail last month despite an offer of his Gstaad chalet apartment as collateral, and house arrest and electronic monitoring as conditions of his freedom.
The director of such film classics as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" was accused of raping the 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy.
Polanski pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence him to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. The evaluator release Polanski after 42 days, but the judge said he was going to send him back to serve out the 90 days. Polanski then fled the country on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was to be sentenced.
Polanski claims the judge and prosecutors acted improperly, and a California appeals court will listen to oral arguments from his attorneys next month about why it should require a lower court to decide whether to dismiss charges against the fugitive director, whether he is present or not.
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities say they are still evaluating a formal U.S. request for Polanski's extradition. His detention could stretch out for months if he appeals extradition to the Swiss Criminal Court and, if needed, the Supreme Court.