Swiss Police Arrests Film Director Polanski on 1977 US Charges
The prominent film director, Roman Polanski, has been detained on a 31-year-old US arrest warrant, BBC reports Sunday, citing Swiss police officials.
Polanski, 76, was taken into custody Saturday as he travelled from France to Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.
In 1978 Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to rape charges. His was indicted on six counts for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and was facing live behind bars.
Polanski never returned to the US and even his 2002 Oscar for directing The Pianist was collected by Harrison Ford.
Polanski now claims the judge then arranged a plea agreement, but later broke his promise. The judge is already deceased and Polanski's lawyers recently requested the case dismissed. In May, the request was rejected by US Judge, Peter Espinoza, who agreed there was misconduct by the original judge, but ordered the film director to return to the US to personally apply for dismissal.
Polanski's lawyers said he would not return to the US over fears he would be immediately arrested as a fugitive.
The Swiss Justice Ministry said the Polish-born movie director, who is also a French citizen, was held in jail, awaiting possible extradition to the US.
France's Culture Minister, Frederic Mitterand, is quoted as saying he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them and French President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case with great attention and shares the minister's hope that the situation can be quickly resolved."
The Zurich Film Festival organizers declared they were in "shock and dismay" over the arrest but would go ahead with plans to show a retrospective of Polanski's work. They also plan a special event as a sign of solidarity with the film director.
Samantha Geimer, the then 13-year-old girl involved in the 1977 rape charges, has asked the US court to drop them over the continued publication of details causing harm to her family.
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