Director Roman Polanski to appear in Polish court for US extradition hearing
Filmmaker Roman Polanski, pictured at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014 (AFP)

Director, who has been in Poland to shoot a new film, faces extradition to the US over his 1977 child sex crime conviction

Roman Polanski is due in a Polish court on Friday at a hearing to consider a US extradition request over his child sex crime conviction.

The Oscar-winning director pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles fuelled by champagne and drugs.

He served 42 days in jail as part of a 90-day plea bargain, but fled the country for France the following year, believing that the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and impose a longer prison sentence.

Polanski has been in Poland to shoot a new drama about the Dreyfus affair, based on a novel by Robert Harris. The 82-year-old was born in France but grew up in Poland and holds dual nationality.

While French law forbids extradition of its citizens, Polish law does not, and Polanksi’s lawyers had been trying to strike a deal giving him immunity from legal action while he shot in the southern city of Krakow.

The leader of Poland’s newly elected Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczyński, recently suggested that there will be no leniency for the director . “There was open talk that he should not be made responsible for his deeds because he is an outstanding, world-famous film-maker. We will totally reject this attitude,” he said.

Polanski previously appeared in Polish court in February . The judge presiding over that case said the court could not make a ruling because it still had to consider extra documents submitted by Polanski’s lawyers.

Under Polish law, if the court rules in favour of the extradition request, it will then be passed on to the justice minister who will make the final decision on whether to hand Polanski over to the US authorities.

In 2009, Polanski was arrested in Zurich on a US warrant and placed under house arrest. He was freed in 2010 after Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him.

Since fleeing the US in 1978, Polanski has won an Oscar for The Pianist. His most recent film, Venus in Fur, was released in 2013. © Guardian News and Media 2015