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Roman Polanski appears in court in extradition hearing

Monika Scislowska and Aleksander Keplicz
Associated Press

Krakow, Poland — Filmmaker Roman Polanski appeared in a court in Poland on Wednesday for a hearing concerning a U.S. request for his extradition charges of sex with a minor, a case that has haunted him since 1977.

Judge Dariusz Mazur was not expected to make a ruling on Wednesday and scheduled another hearing, buying time to study documents that arrived this week from Switzerland, which in 2010 refused to extradite Polanski. The next hearing could be in April or sooner, according to court spokeswoman Grazyna Rokita.

Wearing a dark suit, the Oscar-winning director entered the court in Krakow with his two Polish lawyers. On the attorneys’ request, the court banned media from the hearing.

Polanski, 81, is in Poland preparing to make a movie about Alfred Dreyfus, a 19th-century French army officer wrongly accused of spying.

Prosecutors in Polanski’s childhood city of Krakow, where he has an apartment, have refused a U.S. request to arrest him, but have said there are no legal obstacles to his extradition and have asked the court for a ruling.

If the judge refuses to hand Polanski over, the case is closed. If he allows the extradition, the final decision will belong to the justice minister.

The Oscar-winning director, whose works include “The Pianist” and “Chinatown,” is a celebrity in Poland, where many politicians have indicated reluctance to hand him over, arguing he has already paid a heavy price and repented for what he did.

An Interpol warrant for Polanski’s arrest is in effect in 188 countries. He avoids extradition by traveling only between France, Poland and Switzerland. He has French and Polish passports.

In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He served 42 days in jail as part of a plea bargain but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing the following year.