Polanski case not vindictive, says prosecutor

Los Angeles' top prosecutor said today his office was not persecuting Roman Polanski, but merely trying to resolve the child sex case delayed by the director's flight from the US in 1978.

Los Angeles' top prosecutor said today his office was not persecuting Roman Polanski, but merely trying to resolve the child sex case delayed by the director's flight from the US in 1978.

Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley would not speculate on what sentence his office might seek if and when Polanski is returned to Los Angeles.

The 'Chinatown' director, arrested in Switzerland on Saturday, is challenging extradition to the US.

Mr Cooley hit back at criticism by French officials and some of Hollywood's elite that continuing to press the case against Polanski was vindictive.

"I don't persecute anybody and it's a matter of court processes being concluded," he said.

"There's a Superior Court bench warrant outstanding, it's been executed and there will be further court proceedings."

'Terminator' star and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Polanski, 76, should not expect special treatment.

Schwarzenegger said he was an admirer of Polanski's work, but believed the director's case should be treated the same as any other criminal matter.

Asked if he would consider a pardon, Schwarzenegger said he receives many such requests and would give no special consideration to one by Polanski.

Polanski fled the United States in 1978, hours before he was to be sentenced after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office had made several attempts to have Polanski arrested abroad, including three times since Mr Cooley took office in 2000.

District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office was informed of Polanski's travel to Switzerland on September 22, four days before he was arrested, but would not say how the district attorney learned of Polanski's whereabouts.

Polanski was accused of plying the 13-year-old girl with champagne and part of a Quaalude sedative pill during a modelling shoot in 1977 and raping her.

He was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy, but in a plea bargain, admitted the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.

In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence Polanski to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. But Polanski was freed 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 would later ask the director to agree to a "voluntary deportation".

Polanski fled on February 1 1978, the day he was due to be sentenced to the additional time.

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