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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 10/20/2009 11:28:02 AM ET 2009-10-20T15:28:02

Roman Polanski’s three decades as a fugitive are coming back to haunt him.

Noting his previous escape from U.S. authorities, Switzerland’s top criminal court on Tuesday rejected Polanski’s appeal to be released from prison because of the “high” risk that the 76-year-old director would try to flee again.

Polanski’s offers of bail, house arrest and electronic monitoring failed to sway the tribunal. Even a Swiss chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad was brushed aside as insufficient collateral to guard against Polanski fleeing the country, as the United States seeks to have him extradited for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

“The appellant has already once in 1978 eluded American criminal proceedings by traveling to Europe,” the Federal Criminal Court said in its 17-page verdict, adding that Polanski’s transfer to the U.S. could also cause family trauma and cost investors millions of dollars in losses.

“As a result, the motivation to flee is high,” it said.

Tuesday’s ruling was another setback to the Oscar-winning director’s battle to avoid facing authorities in Los Angeles, where he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl. He was arrested on an international warrant by the Swiss on Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival, and has been battling extradition ever since.

Beyond Polanski’s legal troubles, the decision could have damaging consequences for his latest film, “The Ghost,” a political thriller that has several months of work left before it is ready for theaters.

Polanski and his family will go bankrupt if he has to remain in prison, his lawyers told the court. They said continued incarceration would prevent him from finishing the film starring Pierce Brosnan as a fictional British leader and Ewan McGregor as the politician’s ghostwriter.

Investors stand to lose $40 million if Polanski isn’t freed, they said.

“It’s probable that Mr. Polanski will appeal,” Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime told reporters in Paris. “I repeat that Mr. Polanski has firmly and strongly stated that he will remain in Switzerland during the entire extradition procedure, regardless of its outcome.”

Still, the tribunal in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona left open several possibilities for Polanski to challenge its verdict in what is expected to be a lengthy legal battle over his extradition.

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Polanski has 10 days to appeal the decision on his release to Switzerland’s supreme court. He also can continue attempts to persuade the Swiss Justice Ministry to release him. More court proceedings are expected after Washington files its formal extradition request, which it has until Nov. 25 to submit.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings Legal experts said no path offered Polanski much hope for a speedy release from jail.

“If someone has already fled once, it makes sense to suspect he might flee again,” said Dieter Jann, a former Zurich prosecutor.

Polanski directed such film classics as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” and won a 2002 directing Oscar in absentia for “The Pianist.”

He was accused of plying the underage girl with champagne and a Quaalude sedative 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.

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.

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 afterward he would ask Polanski, a dual French-Polish citizen, 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.

Since then, Polanski has lived in France, which does not extradite its own citizens.

In its verdict, the Swiss court said Polanski offered to surrender his travel documents, wear an electronic monitoring device and submit himself to daily police checks. Those measures were seen as insufficient to prevent his flight because he could always obtain a new passport or even travel to his French home without papers.

The Swiss court also was concerned that Polanski could avoid the extradition process if he fled Switzerland by helicopter or private airplane.

Lawyers for Polanski offered up the director’s Gstaad chalet as collateral, saying it represented more than half of his personal wealth and that it would definitely guarantee his remaining in the country because he has two children he must support through school.

The court, however, sided with Swiss authorities who said even the large bail offer provided insufficient security against flight, and should be made in cash.

The Swiss Justice Ministry said it would examine any new request Polanski submits and evaluate whether it represents a “concrete, realizable” offer as the court ruling suggests. But, spokesman Folco Galli reiterated that detention is only lifted in exceptional cases.

“The point of imprisonment is to ensure that Switzerland can fulfill its treaty obligations on extradition,” Galli said. “He can always ask again to be released. But detention is the rule.”

It is not clear how much time in jail Polanski faces now, either in Switzerland or in the United States. With appeals, the extradition process in Switzerland could take months. In the United States, Polanski fled before sentencing was complete and is expected to face additional penalties for jumping bail.

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

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