Polanksi not to return for US court date

LOS ANGELES: Fugitive director Roman Polanski will not return to the United States for a hearing this week where his lawyers will seek to quash a decades-old sex case against him, court documents showed Monday.

Oscar-winner Polanski, famed for films such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown," fled the United States in 1978 before being sentenced for his guilty plea on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said in February he may consider Polanski's case at this Thursday's hearing but only if the director returned from France, where he now lives.

Polanski's legal team says the film-maker's conviction should be tossed on the grounds of misconduct, claiming the late judge who heard his case in the 1970s had improperly colluded with prosecutors. The allegation emerged in a controversial 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired." Espinoza agreed at an earlier hearing there appeared to have been "substantial misconduct" in the case. But he said the case could only proceed if Polanski was present at the hearing.

However Polanski's attorneys said in a court filing Monday that the director's personal appearance in court "is neither necessary nor relevant" to the question of deciding whether there was misconduct.

Polanski won an Oscar in 2002 for directing "The Pianist." He was previously nominated for an Academy Award for directing "Chinatown" and "Tess" and for screenwriting on "Rosemary's Baby." He was out of the country when his second wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson family in Los Angeles in 1969.