A Polish court is expected to decide Friday whether to extradite to the United States Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski who pleaded guilty in 1977 to raping a 13-year-old girl but left the country before sentencing, AFP reports.
The 82-year-old French-Polish fugitive did not attend the open court hearing that began Friday morning "because of emotional reasons," his lawyer Jan Olszewski told the judge.
But he added that the director of "The Pianist", "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" was in the southern city of Krakow where the court is
If the court clears the extradition, Poland's justice ministry will still have the final say.
A former justice minister and close ally of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party that won Sunday's general election, said Thursday he backed extraditing Polanski.
"Pedophilia is an evil that must be pursued," said Zbigniew Ziobro, justice minister in the 2005-2007 PiS government.
"We should allow Polanski's extradition. We can't shield anyone from taking responsibility for an act as despicable as abusing a minor."
Kaczynski himself said earlier this month that he "rejected the idea of pardoning someone simply because he is an eminent, world-renowned director."
'In the shadow of Polanski'
The United States filed the extradition request in January. Polanski faces sentencing there for raping Samantha Geimer after a photo shoot in Los Angeles when he was 43.
He pleaded guilty at the time to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence. He now lives in France.
US officials have regularly pressed for his extradition, to no avail, and tried to have him arrested when he travelled to Warsaw for the opening of a Jewish museum in October 2014.
Polanski has said he doubts the extradition application will be granted but he will comply with the legal proceedings.
He testified for a marathon nine hours at the first closed-door hearing on February 25.
Polish prosecutors argue there are legal grounds for the extradition to go ahead, despite a statute of limitations on child sex crimes under Polish law.
Polanski, who became a French citizen in 1976 after moving to France from Poland, is currently working on a new film about France's Dreyfus Affair.
The case featured an army captain wrongly convicted in 1894 of espionage and treason whose ordeal became a symbol of injustice and anti-Semitism.
Geimer wrote a book about her encounter with Polanski in 2013, in which she said she was made to drink champagne and was given a sleeping pill before being raped by Polanski in the house of actor Jack Nicholson.
The mother-of-three wrote in "The Girl: A Life Lived in the Shadow of Roman Polanski" that she harbors no hate for Polanski and has forgiven him.