The Swiss justice ministry said on Tuesday that it opposed bail for Oscar-winning film maker Roman Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland more than ten days ago on a US warrant.
"Yesterday we asked the Federal Criminal Tribunal in Bellinzona to reject Mr Polanski's appeal," a spokesman for the ministry's office, Folco Galli, said. He said that authorities believed there was a "great danger" that the 76 year-old French - Polish film-maker would flee pending a full extradition request from the United States on a 32 year-old case on child sex in California.
Under an extradition treaty with the United States, prosecutors in California have 40 days from the time of Polanski's arrest to lodge their full extradition request, which the court will rule on as well. Polanski, who is currently believed to be in a jail in Zurich, has the right to appeal each court ruling, setting the scene for a lengthy legal battle.
Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and Adrien Brody, the US actor who starred in Polanski's Oscar-winning "The Pianist," are the latest in a list of some 700 cinema luminaries who have signed a petition calling for his release.
Swiss authorities said they have no option but to allow the courts to decide independently on the recently renewed US request, even though Polanski has reportedly travelled to the country before.
Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner wrote to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for Polanski to be freed. But Clinton told them that the controversial director's fate was in the hands of the judicial system, Kouchner said on Sunday.
Kouchner, who came under fire after he condemned Polanski's arrest, later said the sympathy he showed for Polanski was misinterpreted and underlined that "justice is the same for everyone and in this case we cannot take a position."