Director Roman Polanski’s 1977 sex crime case has become an international and intergenerational saga, now that members of at least four governments have become involved, the former minor in question has grown up and requested that the issue be put to rest, and the original judge has been dead since 1993. However, after Polanski’s arrest last Saturday in Zurich, it’s clear this drama is far from over.
The filmmaker, 76, who holds French and Polish citizenship, was en route to accept a lifetime achievement award last weekend when he was detained by Swiss police—a move that angered some of his allies from the entertainment industry and added yet another controversial chapter to his tumultuous life story and, as the Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein noted on Sunday, made Polanski a fugitive once again. He will probably contest an expected extradition request from the United States, but according to his lawyer, Polanski’s in a “fighting mood.” —KA
Update: Click here to see a petition signed by dozens of Polanski’s allies in the international entertainment community, including Pedro Almodovar, Wes Anderson, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Bellucci and Wim Wenders.
Mr Polanski’s agent, Jeff Berg, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the arrest was “surprising because Roman for the last 12, 15 years has lived in Switzerland, he has a home, he travels there, he works there”.
Justice spokesman Guido Balmer said the difference with this particular trip was that authorities knew exactly when and where Mr Polanski would arrive.
Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said that because of agreements with the US, “when Mr Polanski arrived we had no choice from a legal point of view but to arrest him”.
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley comments on Roman Polanski’s arrest
The Swiss media has rounded on the authorities.
“Switzerland let a guest walk into a nasty trap. We should be ashamed,” said tabloid newspaper Blick.
Daily paper Le Temps said Switzerland had “shocked film buffs and friends of the arts with its kindly and efficient co-operation with US justice. It has angered Poland and France”.
AP Photo/Roberto Pfeil