Roman Polanski jailed in Switzerland

From the Associated Press

ZURICH — Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police for possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was flying in to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old around the world since 2005.

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“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. “That’s why he was taken into custody.”

Balmer said the U.S. would now be given time to make a formal extradition request.

Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978, a year after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the underage girl.

The director of such classic films as “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby” has asked a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn a judges’ refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it.

The Swiss statement said Polanski was officially in “provisional detention for extradition,” but added that he would not be transferred to U.S. authorities until all proceedings are completed. Polanski can contest his detention and any extradition decision in the Swiss courts, it said.

Polanski has faced a U.S. arrest request since 1978 and has lived for the past three decades in France, where his career has continued to flourish. He received a directing Oscar in absentia for the 2002 movie “The Pianist.” He was not extradited from France because his crime reportedly was not covered under the U.S.’s treaties with the country.

In France, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was “dumbfounded” by Polanski’s arrest, adding that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.”

Mitterrand’s ministry said Sunday in a statement that he is in contact with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “who is following the case with great attention and shares the minister’s hope that the situation can be quickly resolved.”

A native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, Polanski escaped Krakow’s Jewish ghetto as a child and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

He worked his way into filmmaking in Poland, gaining an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film in 1964 for his “Knife in the Water.” Offered entry to Hollywood, he directed the classic “Rosemary’s Baby” in 1968.

But his life was shattered again in 1969 when his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four other people were gruesomely murdered by followers of Charles Manson. She was eight months pregnant.

He went on to make another American classic, “Chinatown,” released in 1974.

In 1977, he was accused of raping the teenager while photographing her during a modeling session. The girl said Polanski plied her with champagne and part of a Quaalude pill at Jack Nicholson’s house while the actor was away. She said that, despite her protests, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her.

Polanski was allowed to plead guilty to one of six charges, unlawful sexual intercourse, and was sent to prison for 42 days of evaluation.

Lawyers agreed that would be his full sentence, but the judge tried to renege on the plea bargain. Aware the judge would sentence him to more prison time and require his voluntary deportation, Polanski fled to France.

The victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

Festival organizers said Polanski’s detention had caused “shock and dismay,” but that they would go ahead with Sunday’s planned retrospective of the director’s work.

The Swiss Directors Association sharply criticized authorities for what it deemed “not only a grotesque farce of justice, but also an immense cultural scandal.”

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  • Cliff Sakata

    This guy drugged, the raped and then sodomized a 13 year old girl. He deserves to be locked up forever.

  • James D. Newman

    My initial reaction to this announcement was similar to what I’m reading in most of the papers — so much time has gone by, hes had a hard life, he makes such great movies.

    Then I re-read the account of the victims ordeal.

    This is not a case of statutory rape, this was rape pure and simple. Beyond that, it was rape of a child.

    How much would someone have to have suffered before you would turn a blind eye on their raping your 13 year old daughter? How good would their movies have to be before you would say “Sure, go ahead.”

    I understand that a lot of time has gone by. But I hope the SOB dies in jail.

  • Adam J. Gajlewicz

    Why don’t you open up your eyes: the case is being re-opened not because Samantha was raped and suffered so much (as she put it in her own words: no harm was done to anyone), but because some LA justice people need to score a few points by bunging one of the greatest film makers ever in jail, after which they will announce to the world that that justice was done.

  • Rapin Chileds

    Give the guy a break, the 70s was a completely different time period. Even the girl said drop it. Lets forgive and forget, and let this genius continue his work.

  • izapmtb

    yha give him a break why cuss he has money? i dont think so we have guys in jail for stealing a motorcycle and selling drugs and they get 25 to life what a laugh and this pig man raps a child and spits on our california judge leaving the county and to top it off hollywood behind him any movie star that is behind this pig man, i will never watch there movies. he better do time or let eveyone else off the hook ..wake america we have the wrong criminals in jail

  • ir

    yha give this guy a break what an idiot we have guys in jail for stealing bike’s and selling drugs and mr. pig man rapes a child and spits on our california judges and leaves the county come la’judge get some balls and put his ass in jail so we wont laugh at our system any movie star that is behind him i will never watch there movies ..wake up usa and put real criminals in jail…

  • ir

    yha give this guy a break what an idiot we have guys in jail for stealing bike’s and selling drugs and mr. pig man rapes a child and spits on our california judges and leaves the county come la’judge get some balls and put his ass in jail so we wont laugh at our system any movie star that is behind him i will never watch there movies ..wake up usa and put real criminals in jail…

  • david

    He should get jail ans as lomng a sentence as any non famous person. Just cos it happened in the 1970′s does not excuse the animal

  • cwade

    I can’t believe this ignorance of the Holloywood and French crown. Hollywood move to France. It is obvious these people have NO understanding as to what happens to men every day when they comitt crimes not even harming another person. These other people have to follow the law; if you don’t like what the judges do then start there; but don’t ask that this man get off because he make “artistic” pictures or it has been a long while. So…..it has for other criminals too… and they sure don’t get off. This is anti Justice for the People to treat the ones of wealth better and we the People will NOT stand for it. Boycott everyone in Hollywood like Debra Winer, Martin Scorsese, Harrison Ford, Whoopi Goldberg rape-rape, Woody Allen,….these Hollywood group support sodomizing a “female” child and then making her the bad guy; no wonder victims don’t want to speak out. Let these people endure what she did and their “daughters”.

  • lewinsky

    as a french citizen he could be extradited anyway

    but if a judicial system
    suggests 40 days for this crime, and then 50 years
    sth is sick

  • http://www.facebook.com ray carr

    he cant be let away with this crime. Dont say move on or the 70′s were different cos thats a load of crap. if that happened to a female relative belong to any of you Polanski supporters would you be as quick to dismiss what he did? yes over time the child in question now a grown woman, who has come to terms with what happened to her and learned how to cope with it, has forgiven him, it takes some real courage to, over time, forgive such a horrible act,it would be extremely stupid for the authorities to let him off scott free without punishment. it would be sending out a very dangerous message to the Paedophiles of the world out there. They could probably go on the stand in trial and ask to have the same punishment as Roman Polanski. Why should one paedophile get away with such horrible acts, and the others get (and rightly so) punished. they need to make an expample of him. That no one regardless of whether he’s an actor, musician, whatever should be exempt from facing punishment. Just cos they made some good movies doesnt make them a hero. He is a convicted paedophile and a disusting vile person who thinks he shouldnt be extradited and punished for raping a child. yea great role model Polanski (yea, right)sending out such a message to all the rapists out there

  • Robert

    So what if he had a hard life, that should have only made him a better person. He was 44 when he drugged and performed every perverted act he could on a 13 year old girl. As for his talents, what does that have to do with it? The reason the judge changed the sentence was because of misinformation from the attorneys so he righted a wrong. Polanski fleeing was also a felony, I hope that is also taken into consideration. as for me, I have a 14 year old daughter, and you would literally have to kill me to get to her! He will learn soon enough in prison what rape is my friends. Nobody should “get a break” like many say. He raped the child, fled the Country, got arrested in France and Minister of Culture calls it an outrage? What kind of culture does France promote? “Make good art,Rape a child” Anyone defending him is no better than him.