Arrest in Zurich::Roman Polanski sexual abuse case


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Arrest in Zurich On 26 September 2009, Polanski was detained by Swiss police at Zurich Airport while trying to enter Switzerland, in relation to his outstanding 1978 U.S. arrest warrant. Polanski had planned to attend the Zurich Film Festival to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.<ref name="Verschuur2009-09-27">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref name="AFP Arrested">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> The arrest followed a request by the United States that Switzerland apprehend Polanski. U.S. investigators had learned of his planned trip from a fax sent on 22 September 2009, from the Swiss Justice Ministry to the United States Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, which had given them enough time to negotiate with Swiss authorities and lay the groundwork for an arrest.<ref name="Klapper">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }}</ref> Polanski had been subject of an Interpol red notice at the request of the United States since 2005.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said Polanski was put "in provisional detention." An arrest warrant or extradition to the United States could be subject to judicial review by the Federal Criminal Court and then the Federal Supreme Court, according to a ministry spokesman.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> Polanski announced that he intended to appeal extradition and hired lawyer Lorenz Erni to represent him.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name="Swissinfo 2009-09-28">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> On 6 October his initial request for bail was refused by the Federal Department of Justice and Police; a spokesperson commented, "we continue to be of the opinion that there is a high risk of flight."<ref name="Refused Bail">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

On 2 May 2010, Polanski published an open letter entitled "I can remain silent no longer!" on Bernard-Henri Lévy's web site.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> In it, he stated that on 26 February 2010 Roger Gunson (the deputy district attorney in charge of the case in 1977, retired by the time of the letter) testified under oath before Judge Mary Lou Villar in the presence of David Walgren (the present deputy district attorney in charge of the case, who was at liberty to contradict and question Gunson) that 16 September 1977 Judge Rittenband stated to all the parties concerned that Polanski's term of imprisonment in Chino constituted the totality of the sentence he would have to serve. Polanski also stated that Gunson added that it was false to claim (as the present district attorney’s office does in their request for his extradition) that the time he spent in Chino was for the purpose of a diagnostic study.

On 12 July 2010, the Swiss court rejected the U.S. request and released Polanski from custody.<ref>Nick Cumming-Bruce & Michael Cieply, Swiss Reject U.S. Request to Extradite Polanski in New York Times dated 12 July 2010</ref> Because Polanski fled the Los Angeles court before being sentenced, all six of the original charges are still pending against him.<ref name="Cieply2009-10-01">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

Reactions to the arrest

In reaction to the arrest, the foreign ministers of both France and Poland urged Switzerland to release Polanski, who holds dual citizenship of both countries,<ref name="WaPo 2009-09-29">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> but subsequently withdrew their support for Polanski.


The arrest provoked particular controversy in France, where over the years many had downplayed the severity of Polanski's crime, highlighting instead his achievements as a film director and the many years that had passed since his flight from the United States.<ref name="TIME 2009-09-28">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

The French minister of Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterrand, was especially vehement in his support, all the while announcing his "very deep emotion" after the questioning of the director, "a French citizen" and "a film-maker of international dimension": "the sight of him thrown to the lions for an old story which doesn't make much sense, imprisoned while traveling to an event that was intending to honor him: caught, in short, in a trap, is absolutely dreadful. Polanski," Mitterrand continued, "had a difficult life" but had "always said how much he loves France, and he is a wonderful man". There is, he added, "a generous America that we love, and a certain America that frightens us. It's that America that has just shown its face."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref><ref name=autogenerated1>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> These reactions, however, resulted in political backlash in France.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit criticized these statements by Mitterrand, mainly on the grounds that it was a "matter of justice" inasmuch as "a 13-year-old girl was raped", adding "I believe that a minister of Culture, even if his name is Mitterrand, should say: I'll wait and read the files [myself]".<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> "It is a tough call, since it is true that a 13-year-old girl was raped, that she said in her own words 'I complained [as it was happening]' and that she afterwards added 'I accepted a large sum of money' [to remain silent]".<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Marc Laffineur, vice president of the French National Assembly and a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right party, criticized government ministers for rushing to judgment, saying the charges against Polanski should not be minimized.

Marine Le Pen, from the National Front, during a TV talk show on how to prevent sex crimes recidivism, criticized Mitterrand for his support of Polanski.<ref>[1],{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }} 5 October 2009</ref> She recalled that in 2005, Mitterrand had published a book strongly similar to memoirs<ref>Frédéric Mitterrand, La mauvaise vie ("the bad life") ISBN 2-266-15717-5</ref> in which he mentioned using adolescent "boy" prostitutes in Thailand. She contended that such apparent support of abusers of minors from a minister was at odds with the objective of the state to discourage sex tourism and the abuse of minors. The National Front started a petition for Mitterrand's resignation.

The SACD, a society that collects authorship fees for film and theater works and redistributes them to authors, hosted an international petition in favor of Polanski.<ref name="SACD Petition"/> The petition stated:

By their extraterritoriality, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.<ref name="SACD Petition"/>

A number of celebrities, most of them French, expressed their support for Polanski by means of a public manifesto, whose concluding statements were "Roman Polanski is a French citizen, an artist of international reputation, now threatened to be extradited. This extradition, if brought into effect, would carry a heavy load of consequences as well as deprive the film-maker of his freedom." The signatories concluded: "we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Not all assessments coming from the French film-making mainstream have been openly partisan, however. Luc Besson, for instance, remarked: "I do not know the history of the trial. (...) I feel a lot of affection for [Polanski], he's a man I really like and I know him a bit, our daughters are very good friends but there is one justice, [and] it is the same for everyone".<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

On 30 September 2009, the French government dropped its public support for Polanski, on the grounds that he was not "above the law". Government spokesman Luc Chatel said: "We have a judicial procedure under way, for a serious affair, the rape of a minor, on which the American and Swiss legal systems are doing their job," adding: "One can understand the emotion that this belated arrest, more than 30 years after the incident, and the method of the arrest, have caused."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }}</ref>

Public opinion polls in France consistently show between 65% and 75% of the population want to see him extradited to the United States.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>


Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk responded to early reactions by urging his cabinet ministers to exercise calm and reminding them that it is a "case of rape and of punishment for having sex with a child."<ref name="Klapper"/>

An opinion poll showed that more than 75% of Poles would not like to see Polanski escape another trial.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>


In Switzerland, the arrest caused widely varying reactions in the media and in politics, while the Swiss minister of justice, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, defended the arrest as legally required under the Swiss-U.S. extradition treaty and as a matter of equality before the law.<ref name="Swissinfo 2009-09-28"/>

United States

When asked if he would consider granting Polanski a pardon, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: "I think that he is a very respected person and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. It doesn't matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer." Schwarzenegger added: "And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations, but the allegations about his case. Was there something done wrong? You know, was injustice done in the case?"<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

More than 100 people in the film industry, including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, and David Lynch signed a petition calling for Polanski's release.<ref name="SACD Petition">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>The full list of petition signers can be read here [2].</ref>

Whereas a number of those in Hollywood have rallied behind Polanski, the Los Angeles Times reports that the rest of the nation seems to have a different perspective: "In letters to the editor, comments on Internet blogs and remarks on talk radio and cable news channels, the national sentiment is running overwhelmingly against Polanski."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

Following the rearrest, David Wells announced that he had lied in the Wanted and Desired documentary, claiming that Marina Zenovich told him that the documentary would not air in America, if he refused to lie in it (which Zenovich denied). Wells then proceeded to blast Polanski, calling him a pedophile rapist.<ref></ref><ref></ref> Wells said "It's outrageous. This pedophile raped a 13-year-old girl. It's still an outrageous offense. It's a good thing he was arrested. I wish it would have happened years before."

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