Authorities in Zurich will hold a extradition hearing after the U.S. requested Switzerland release convicted pedophile Roman Polanski into their custody, the Swiss justice ministry said Friday.
The extradition request comes 32 years after the director fled the states, as he awaited sentencing for a 1977 rape.
Polanski, who has lived in France for decades, may appeal the decision to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court and the Federal Supreme Court if Swiss officials approve the extradition requests; Polanski could stall the extradition process for years, if he challenges it, U.S. judicial officials said.
"We will take the time that is needed," Folco Galli, a Swiss justice ministry spokesman, said of the process.
The 76-year-old filmmaker has been in Swiss custody since September 26, when he arrived in the country for a film festival he was slated to receive a lifetime achievement award at.
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to a single count of unlawful sex with a minor. He admitted to having given Champagne and a Quaalude to a 13-year-old girl he'd taken to his pal Jack Nicholson's house for a photo shoot, and then having sex with her. Out on bond after his plea, Polanski fled the country before he was sentenced. The arrest warrant against him was issued in 1978.
His victim, Samantha Geimer, now 45 and a married mother-of-three, went public with her identity several years ago after settling a civil lawsuit against Polanski. She said that she believes the criminal case against him should be dropped.