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Roman Polanski Arrested in Zurich

September 28th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

FILM-CANNES/

Film director Roman Polanski, 76, was arrested Sunday, in Zurich, Switzerland, where he had traveled to accept an award as part of the Zurich Film Festival. The warrant for his arrest stems from 1977 sexual assault charges, which alleged Polanski had sexual relations with a 13 year old girl at actor Jack Nicholson‘s house. Fearing a years-long prison stay, Polanski, who later pleaded guilty to the charges, fled the United States before being sentenced.

For the past 30 years, Polanski, a French citizen, has avoided traveling to countries with U.S. extradition treaties. According to Reuters, Polanski’s lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told France Info Radio,

We are going to try to lift the arrest warrant in Zurich… the (extradition) convention between Switzerland and the United States is not very clear.”

Polanski is the acclaimed director of such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown. He famously altered the original “happy” ending of Chinatown to reflect his grief regarding the death of his wife, actress Sharon Tate. In 1969 she was murdered, along with six others, in his home by members of the Charles Manson cult. Despite these setbacks, Polanski never gave up making films. In 2002, he won the best director Oscar for The Pianist.

New York film critic David Edelstein commented on the arrest in his blog, The Projectionist, saying,

This is as it should be — alas. But it didn’t have to go down this way.”

The 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired examined the case in detail, and while it didn’t exonerate Polanski, it did cast doubt on the ethical conduct of the judge who originally presided over the case. The publicity surrounding the doc, as well as the fact that the victim, Samantha Geimer, has publicly forgiven him, inspired Polanski to formally request that his charges be dropped in 2008. Obviously, the court didn’t rule in his favor.

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