Roman Polanski arrested on 1977 sex charges in Zurich
It was the moment he’s been dreading for more than thirty years.
The Polish-born film director Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland, where he was to be honoured at the Zurich Film Festival.
The authorities were acting on an international arrest warrant, issued four years ago. They said there was no political pressure to arrest him and they had no choice.
Polanski admitted, in 1977, that – at the age of 44 – he’d had sex with a thirteen year old girl, after an incident at Jack Nicholson’s Los Angeles mansion.
He fled the country before he was sentenced and he has been living and working in France – and a number of other European countries that don’t have extradition treaties with the US.
Polanski – who’s films include Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and Frantic – didn’t even return to America to collect his Oscar for Best Director for The Pianist, in 2003.
His lawyer, Herve Termine, says he’ll be appealing against his arrest and any attempt to send him back to the US.
He said that it was unbearable that more than thirty years after the incident, a man of 76, who obviously poses no danger to society, should spend a single day in prison.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said moves to detain him were set in motion last week, saying it had been posted on the internet that Polanski would be in Zurich.
On two earlier occasions that Polanksi learnt of preparations to detain him, he changed his travel plans.
The Polish and French foreign ministers have agreed to make a joint approach to the American authorities. One reports suggests they might ask President Obama for a pardon.
A number of film-makers and actors — including Costa Gavras, Wong Kar Wai, Monica Bellucci and Fanny Ardant — have signed a petition to express their dismay at Polanski’s detention.
At the festival, posters were displayed with slogans including “Free Polanski” and “No extradition.”
The retrospective of his work is going ahead.