Slow crime day in Zurich?
Academy-Award winning director Roman Polanski was taken into custody in Switzerland Saturday on a 31-year-old U.S. arrest warrant stemming from Polanski’s alleged unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, organizers of the Zurich Film Festival said early Sunday morning.
Polanski, who won a Best Director Oscar for “The Pianist” in 2002, fled to France from the United States in 1978 after he was arrested in Los Angeles and pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
The Polish director, 76, was in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award for his work as a director, the Zurich Film Festival organizers said Sunday. The film festival officials said Polanski’s arrest caused “shock and dismay” but wouldn’t derail plans to continue with Sunday’s planned retrospective of his work.
How is this case any of Switzerland’s business? Is this really the best use they can find for their cops and judges? Sorry, but this is the most out-of-sync Swiss Miss since Swiss men finally gave women the right to vote — in 1971. Apologies to our readers in Switzerland, but can anybody name their favorite Swiss film? Didn’t think so. I’ll give the last word to Harry Lime:
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace‚Äîand what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
Background details for anyone unfamiliar with the case, after the cut.
Polanski, a Holocaust survivor who also directed award-winning films including “Chinatown,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Ninth Gate,” made tabloid headlines in the late 1960s when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson’s “family” cult in a gruesome stabbing.
In 1977, the then 44-year-old Polanski photographed the 13-year-old girl as part of a guest-editing gig at the French edition of “Vogue.” The girl later testified in court that Polanski gave her alcohol and quaaludes and sexually assaulted her without her consent.
Polanski was ordered to take part in a psychiatric evaluation after he pleaded guilty. He fled to France, where he held citizenship and was legally able to avoid extradition to the U.S. — until now.
The victim at the centre of the case, Samantha Geimer, has previously asked for the charges to be dropped, saying the continued publication of details “causes harm to me, my husband and children”.
Polanski, who now lives permanently in Paris, is considered an international fugitive.
His Oscar for directing the 2002 The Pianist was collected by Harrison Ford, who had previously starred in his 1988 thriller, Frantic.
A statement from the organisers of the film festival stated: ‚ÄúRoman Polanski, one of the greatest film directors of our time, would have received an award for his life‚Äôs achievement at the Zurich Film Festival.
France‚Äôs culture minister says he is ‚Äúdumbfounded” by the arrest. of the director, who is a french citizen.
Frederic Mitterrand said he ‚Äústrongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them‚Äù.