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Roman Polanski makes legal bid to return to US

Polish court recently ruled film director and Holocaust survivor already served time for statutory rape conviction

French director Roman Polanski arrives for the screening of the film "Saint-Laurent" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Valery Hache)
French director Roman Polanski arrives for the screening of the film "Saint-Laurent" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Valery Hache)

LOS ANGELES, United States — Fugitive movie director Roman Polanski plans to return to the United States, his lawyer said Thursday, and is seeking assurances he will do no further jail time over the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.

The award-winning director of “The Pianist” and “Chinatown” has been on the run for almost 40 years but claims he reached a plea deal in the case which would keep him out of jail, attorney Harland Braun told AFP.

Braun has written to Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Scott Gordon to unseal a secret transcript of the testimony of the prosecutor in the Polanski case.

The filmmaker was accused of drugging Samantha Gailey before raping her at a friend’s house in Los Angeles in 1977.

He admitted having unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, as part of a plea bargain and spent 42 days in Chino State Prison before being released.

This file photo taken on October 30, 2015, shows Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski arriving for a press conference after his trial at the regional court in Krakow, Poland. (AFP PHOTO/JANEK SKARZYNSKI)
This file photo taken on October 30, 2015, shows Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski arriving for a press conference after his trial at the regional court in Krakow, Poland. (AFP PHOTO/JANEK SKARZYNSKI)

He claims Judge Laurence Rittenband reneged on his deal and told prosecutors Polanski should spend up to 50 years in prison, and the filmmaker fled to Europe.

He spent almost a year in custody in Switzerland as authorities tried to extradite him back to the US but a Polish court ruled Polanski has served his time under the plea deal.

Braun believes the prosecutor’s secret testimony supports Polanski’s claim that he had an agreement to serve just 48 days and that — taken with the Polish decision — it should convince the US authorities Polanski has served his time.

“After we confirm the contents, we will urge the court to recognize the Polish decision resulting from a litigation initiated by the (district attorney) and in which the DA participated,” Braun said.

“If the court accepts the principle of comity, Roman can come to Los Angeles and to court without fear of custody.”

Born in Paris in 1933 to Polish Jewish parents, Polanski moved to Poland with his family before World War II.

When he was eight, the Nazis arrested his parents and sent them to concentration camps. His mother never returned.

He went on to win acclaim for his 1962 feature debut in Poland, “Knife in the Water,” before arriving in Hollywood in 1968 to shoot his first big international hit, “Rosemary’s Baby.”

The following year his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four friends were murdered by cult leader Charles Manson and his followers.

Adrien Brody appears as Wladyslaw Szpilman in a scene from the Holocaust movie 'The Pianist' (Courtesy)
Adrien Brody appears as Wladyslaw Szpilman in a scene from the Holocaust movie ‘The Pianist’ (Courtesy)

Polanski now lives in France with his third wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.

He has yet to return to the United States, however, not even in 2003 to pick up an Oscar for best director for his harrowing Holocaust drama, “The Pianist” — one of his eight Academy Awards.

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