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Swiss reject another bail offer from Polanski

Imprisoned director Roman Polanski made a new, higher offer of bail but Swiss authorities rejected it because they still think the risk is too high that he would flee the country, the Justice Ministry said Friday.Folco Galli, the ministry spokesman, said the offer was not made in cash and failed to address concerns that the 76-year-old filmmaker would flee Switzerland as he awaits a decision on wh
/ Source: The Associated Press

Imprisoned director Roman Polanski made a new, higher offer of bail but Swiss authorities rejected it because they still think the risk is too high that he would flee the country, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

Folco Galli, the ministry spokesman, said the offer was not made in cash and failed to address concerns that the 76-year-old filmmaker would flee Switzerland as he awaits a decision on whether he will be extradited to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

“We still consider the flight risk as high,” Galli said.

Polanski has been in Swiss custody since his arrest Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime award from a film festival. He is fighting extradition to Los Angeles, where he is wanted for fleeing sentencing 31 years ago, but has suffered a string of legal setbacks in Switzerland so far.

Polanski filed his latest request on Monday, Galli said. The director now has 10 days to appeal the decision to the Swiss Criminal Court, which has already once ordered Polanski kept in jail despite an offer of his Gstaad apartment as collateral, and house arrest and electronic monitoring as conditions of his freedom.

Legal experts say Polanski has little chance of being released from prison regardless of the bail he posts because of his long history as a fugitive.

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. Polanski was released after 42 days by an evaluator 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 his lawyers in California are urging a state court to quickly hear his appeal. In court filings this month, the lawyers there said key witnesses in the case are now elderly and have yet to testify under oath.

The United States formally asked Switzerland last week for Polanski to be handed over but Galli said the Swiss need “weeks” to make an extradition decision.

The process could stretch out for months if Polanski decides to appeal any extradition decision to the Swiss Criminal Court and, if needed, the Supreme Court.