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Photos: Roman Polanski’s life, career

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  1. Love lost

    Roman Polanski, the French film director of Polish origin, poses with his wife, American actress Sharon Tate, in London in the 1960s. In 1969, a pregnant Tate was murdered by followers of Charles Manson. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. French legend

    Polanski, left, is seen with French actress Catherine Deneuve and producer Eugene Gutowski in London on Aug. 17, 1964. Deneuve was about to star in Polanski's film "Repulsion." (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Hollywood mark

    Actress Mia Farrow stars in Polanski's 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby." The director established his reputation as a major commercial filmmaker with the success of the film about a woman whose pregnancy is awash in horror and satanic doings. Polanski's screenplay adaptation earned him an Academy Award nomination. (Paramount Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Violent Shakespeare

    Polanski, left, takes part in a news conference with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on Aug. 2, 1970, concerning their planned film production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." The bleak and violent film was Polanski's first feature following his wife's murder. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Behind the camera

    Polanski is seen on location shooting Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' in Northumberland, England, in 1970. (Ian Tyas / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Major success

    Actress Faye Dunaway takes instructions from Polanski on the set of "Chinatown." Polanski returned to Hollywood in 1973 to make the classic detective story. A major critical and box office succes in the summer of 1974, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. Stars Jack Nicholson and Dunaway both received Oscar nominations for their roles, but screenwriter Robert Towne won the lone Oscar for the film. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Legal trouble

    Polanski leaves court in Santa Monica, Calif., in September 1977. The director was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl he photographed during a modeling session at Nicholson's home in Los Angeles. In a deal with prosecutors, Polanski pled guilty to one of six charges against him, unlawful sexual intercourse, and was sent to prison for 42 days of psychological evaluation. Faced with the prospect of further prison time, Polanski fled the country in 1978, living as an exile in France. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Another thriller

    Polanski's film career grew fitful as financing became harder to securein the early '80s. He remained busy with theater and opera productions in Europe but proved he could still land major film stars with 1988's "Frantic," starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner, whom Polanski would marry in 1989. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Cannes carpet

    Polanski and Seigner arrive at the gala screening of his film "The Pianist" during the 55th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2002. The couple have two children together. (Francois Guillot / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Oscar winner

    "The Pianist" tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who, during World War II, lived in the Warsaw ghettos. He escaped from Nazi concentration camps, and, thanks to music, lived to tell about it. The film is based on Szpilman's memoir, published in 1946. Brody won an Oscar for his role. (Studio Canal) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. His story

    Polanski celebrates after being awarded the Golden Palm for "The Pianist" during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on May 26, 2002. The story "was something I know about, remember very well, something that could help me recreate the events without talking about myself," Polanski said at Cannes. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Special delivery

    Polanski, right, shows off his Academy Award for best director for "The Pianist" which he received from Harrison Ford during the American Film festival in Deauville, France, on Sept. 7, 2003. Polanski could not receive the award at the actual Oscar ceremony because he was still wanted in the United States. (Mychele Daniau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. His own 'Twist'

    Polanski followed "The Pianist" with the 2005 Charles Dickens adaptation, "Oliver Twist." (TriStar Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Something to sink his teeth into

    Polanski poses with an actor during a news conference to present his musical "Dance of the Vampires" in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2006. (Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Enough is enough

    Polanski angrily leaves a news conference at the 60th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2007, during a gathering of equally renowned peers. The director told journalists that their questions about an anthology of short films the filmmakers had all worked on were pathetic. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Wave for 'W.'

    Polanski waves on the red carpet before a screening of director Oliver Stone's film "W." at the Turin Film Festival in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 21, 2008. (Massimo Pinca / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. New documentary

    Polanski is seen in Oberhausen, Germany, on Sept. 29, 2008. That year, the Emmy-winning documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" debuts at the Sundance Film Festival, reigniting the debate over the case against the director. The documentary uncovers new information about actions by the late Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, suggesting he inappropriately consulted with a prosecutor not assigned to the case. (Roberto Pfeil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Still shooting

    Polanski is seen during the shooting of his film "The Ghost" in List on Sylt, Germany, on Feb. 23, 2009. The story centers on a ghostwriter who is hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister. He uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy. Most of the story takes place in an oceanfront house during the middle of winter. (Georg Supanz / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 10/6/2009 11:29:35 AM ET 2009-10-06T15:29:35

Roman Polanski lost the first round Tuesday in his battle to avoid extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

Already locked in a Zurich cell for the last dozen days, Polanski learned he will remain incarcerated for an extended period as the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected his plea to be released from custody.

Swiss authorities expressed fear he might flee the country if freed from prison. The director of such film classics as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” has been wanted by U.S. authorities since fleeing sentencing 31 years ago.

“We continue to be of the opinion that there is a high risk of flight,” said ministry spokesman Folco Galli, explaining the decision.

Galli said that the threat was too great for the government to accept bail or other security measures in exchange for the release of the filmmaker.

Polanski was apprehended Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive an award from a film festival. Authorities in Los Angeles consider him a convicted felon and a fugitive, and Switzerland says there has been an international warrant out on him since 2005.

Polanski’s legal representatives are also appealing to Switzerland’s federal criminal court to free the director. Galli said the Justice Ministry has submitted a letter to the tribunal explaining why it opposes release even on bail.

Legal experts say Polanski stands a minimal chance of a speedy release, even if his lawyers have suggested he be held under house arrest in his chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad.

“In practice, I don’t remember any case where a fugitive has been released on bail while awaiting extradition to a foreign country,” said former Zurich prosecutor Peter Cosandey, adding that Polanski’s ownership of an Alpine chalet doesn’t aid his case greatly.

“He could easily disappear,” Cosandey said, referring to Switzerland’s lax border controls. “He could just hop on a train to Germany. Coming by plane, you’re often just waived on. By car, it’s even easier.”

Dieter Jann, another Zurich ex-prosecutor, has said extradition would be hard to fight, and he thought Switzerland had followed procedures correctly.

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In Paris, Polanski’s lawyers took note of the decision and said they would focus on convincing the court to free Polanski.

“In particular, Mr. Polanski undertakes to remain in Switzerland for the duration of the extradition procedure, and to respect all obligations that could be imposed on him to guarantee this commitment,” said a statement.

One of the lawyers, Herve Temime, added that Polanski did not pose a flight risk.

“We sincerely hope that the Swiss judges are able to remain detached,” he told reporters.

Polanski was accused of plying the underage girl with champagne and part of a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977, and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy.

He 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.

However, he was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again.

The judge responded by saying he was going to send Polanski back to jail for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to agree to a “voluntary deportation.” Polanski then fled the country, on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was scheduled to be sentenced to the additional time.

Galli confirmed that Washington has yet to file a formal request seeking extradition. But he said the U.S. probably wouldn’t need its entire 60-day period to submit all documents.

“I assume this is a priority case in the United States,” Galli said.

Polanski looks set to remain in prison for months as his case in the Swiss courts progresses. The criminal court has said it will rule on the filmmaker’s request in the “next weeks,” and a verdict in either direction can be appealed to the country’s highest judicial body, the Federal Tribunal.

Galli said Polanski would remain in prison for the duration of this process.

Cosandey, an expert in international criminal cases, said Polanski’s lawyers may seek to sway the court with promises such as a bail pledge as high as 1 million francs ($1 million).

“But it’s hard to say if this will be successful,” Cosandey said. “If the court just follows the formal treaty, he has to stay in prison. The fact that he’s a prominent guy won’t help him in Switzerland.”

Polanski has received backing from directors and film stars in Hollywood and Europe, and from government officials in France and Poland, where he holds citizenship. But some of that support has waned since the original shock of his arrest, with leading French and Polish officials urging a more restrained reaction considering the crime.

In Switzerland, debate has raged among parliamentarians and cultural figures over the neutral country’s role in arresting Polanski as he came to attend a government-backed festival. Few, however, have challenged the legality of his imprisonment and likely extradition.

Former Justice Minister Christoph Blocher said last week the director should have been warned — an assertion rejected by legal experts — but added that the case against Polanski now was quite simple and that he “must be extradited.”

Polanski and the victim, Samantha Geimer, reached a $500,000 settlement in October 1993, according to documents recently released in Los Angeles.

Geimer, who long ago identified herself, sued Polanski in December 1988 when she was 25 years old, alleging sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seduction. She has since joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal and has forgiven him.

More on: Roman Polanski

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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