Roman Polanski has asked a US judge to sentence him in absentia over the 32 year old sexual assault case that led the director to flee the US in 1978.

A defence laywer presented a letter from Polanski, who is currently under house arrest in Swizerland, asking for him to be sentenced without returning to the US. It was accepted by Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza but he said he wanted to see legal brief that state why such a move would be appropriate.

He scheduled another hearing for January 22 but did not say if planned to set up hearing to look into whether there was misconduct by a judge or prosecutors during the 1970s proceedings.

A California District Court ruled last month that misconduct should be investigated and criticised Polanski for leaving the country; but it refused to dismiss the case. Instead, it suggested that she could be sentenced in absentia or he could drop the battle against his extradition, return to the US and face sentencing in person.

Polanski was arrested last September en route to the Zurich Film Festival to accept a lifetime achievement awards. He allowed to leave prison for his home in Gstaad under house arrest in early December. During his stint in prison, the director finished work on his next project, The Ghostwriter, which will have its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival next month.