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L.A. prosecutors planned Polanski arrest after learning he would be accepting award in Zurich [Updated]


Director Roman Polanski is in Swiss custody awaiting extradition to Los Angeles after being arrested in Zurich in connection with his 1977 Los Angeles rape case.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office learned last week that Polanski had plans to travel to Zurich this weekend, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors sent a provisional arrest warrant to the U.S. Justice Department, which presented it to  Swiss authorities. On at least two previous occasions, the district attorney’s office has received reports that Polanski had travel arrangements to countries with extradition treaties with the U.S. and prepared paperwork for his arrest, Gibbons said.

“But in the end, he apparently found out about it and didn’t go,” she said.

Asked if prosecutors would ask that Polanski be sentenced to time behind bars if he was returned to the U.S., she said, “We’ve always maintained this is a matter between Polanski and the court. … We initially recommended prison time for him, but I can’t see into the future.”

An attorney for Polanski, Chad Hummel, declined to comment. “Right now, we’re not in a position to say anything,” he said.

Polanski, now 76 and a married father of two, asked the court to throw out the entire case in December based on new allegations of prosectorial and judicial misconduct detailed in an HBO documentary last year. The L.A. district attorney’s office argued that he could not make such a request while a fugitive, and an L.A. judge earlier this year agreed. A 1997 attempt at settling the case also failed.

Polanski was arrested 31 years ago at a Beverly Hills hotel after a 13-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson's house.

A 1978 arrest warrant, issued after he failed to appear at his sentencing on the statutory-rape conviction, is still in effect, and he would be taken into custody upon arrival on U.S. soil. The director of "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" has not returned to the U.S. since then but continues to work as a director, winning an Oscar for "The Pianist."

The Swiss Justice Ministry said Polanski was taken into custody after he flew in to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival.

[Updated at 9:20 a.m.: Polanski’s stay in Switzerland could be brief if he opts to return to Los Angeles.

“If he agrees with an extradition, he could be sent to the U.S. in the next days,” said Guido Ballmer, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police.

But if Polanski declines to come back without a fight -- perhaps a more likely scenario given his three decades as a fugitive -- the court process could be quite lengthy, Ballmer told The Times. The appeals process has several layers and could last months, if not longer.]

The ministry issued the following statement:

"Yesterday evening Roman Polanski was arrested at his arrival and was put in provisional detention in view to extradition based on an US arrest warrant. The US authorities are accusing Roman Polanski of sexual acts with minors, specifically in a case of 1977 with a 13 year old girl in Los Angeles. Since the end of 2005 the US authorities are searching worldwide for Roman Polanski.

"An US arrest warrant against Roman Polanski exists since 1978. Whether Roman Polanski will be effectively extradited to the USA or not, can be established only, after the extradition process judicially has been finalised. It is possible to appeal at the federal penal court of justice against an arrest warrant in view to extradition as well as against an extradition decision. Their decisions can be taken further to the federal court of justice. In respect to this pending process it is not possible to give any further information."

-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: 2005 file image, Gerard Julien / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (122)

What a waste of taxpayers money!

Some one is getting browny points with the USA, can't wait to see how far this goes.

good. this guy is a rapist, he drugged and abused a child. what about nicholson? he is a scumbag. these men think they are above the law bc they are hollywood? polanski should go to prison for the rest of his miserable life. way to go usa.

I say lock him up

I say lock him up

So much for neutrality.

First the Swiss banks turn over private information about Americans, so that the infinitely corrupt and supremely unchecked IRS can harass people for more money. Now they ambush Polanski. I guess Switzerland has become just another boot-licking sycophant, a stooge of the American empirical machine. It's a sad development, given the historical relevence and political effectiveness of their neutrality. Of course, the same thing has happened to Ireland, another country with a constitution based on neutrality, but which allows American troops to organize and stage military excusions into Iraq from the Shannon military base. All this is done despite active protests from Irish citizens.

When US laws circumvent and quash the laws of other nations, there can be no sovereignty. And considering that the US is the most hyper-legalist country on the globe, what we are talking about is pure fascism.

Other examples of these abuses can be easily found in the methodologies used to prosecute presumed terrorists, based only on clearly unrelated and always cirumstantial evidence taken from such sources as private e-mails, travel plans and other innocuous activities. Of course, the unlawful (via Constitutional standards, and basic human rights) gathering of private information used to prosecute people is being used now in other arenas, including the preposterous "drug war." Anything seen as an aberration from the norm can be labeled a terrorist threat, and pursued with the unlimited powers that has been granted to all law enforcement agencies via the Patriot Act - one of the most ironic names given to some of the most draconian legislation in all of US history.

I thought this type of strong-arm political and legal bullying was a by-product of the Bush regime, and the neo-con dominated legislature and bureacracies. It's sad to see that it continues, and in some way flourishes, under the Obama administration.

So much for change.

I actually think we should lock him up and throw away the key,ok. You can't flee the long arm of the law,ok. There has to be some justice in this world I'm all about justice and treating others fairly,ok. If we can't have that then what do we really have, ok. I like A good movie as much as the next guy,k and I love the ladies ok but you don't see me out there with no restraint,ok. Meanwhile this guy had his fun and thinks he can outrun the law?!!! That's not right,ok.

Well they finally put their hands on him, now he's theirs and they will screw with him like nobody ever was screwed with before in California.

Because they had their sights on him for decades while he jeered them from his safe heaven in France - imagine that, France! - expect perp-walk abuses before leering media on the scale rarely seen in Hollywood before, medieval shackles, orange jump suits, court security thugs 10 cm away from him at all times always in leering menacing postures, remotely activated paralyzing belts on his back all the time, etc, etc. Total denial of any human dignity at every step of the process, including violations of his personal physical inviolability at every possible opportunity. Standard fare in US courts, jails and prisons.

But topped off with many hours of prison raping as this is a well established tradition in US prisons in cases like his. Delayed 30 years but finally delivered likely with a special vengeance which might be hard for somebody his age, over 75.

So, one short reckless step across the border and all of the sudden he is totally at the mercy of one of the most overbearing, most mediaeval, merciless, vindictive, inhumane, vicious, prickly, legal system in the Western World. I predict he will be on his knees from the day one praying for a chance to return to the civility of Europe.

Feel really sorry for him.

I think they should set him free. This is ridiculous. Rush limbaugh told me about this on fox news and he said we should think closely about the precedent were setting here. I mean are who are we to throw a stone. I like the company of a nice young woman. Who's to say she didn't ask for it. Fox news feels this is a witch hunt.leave the poor guy alone he's old now. I mean really

Doesn't the LA DA have bigger fish to fry like Gang members terrorizing our streets than go after a film director who's victim said there was no crime and who has been through so much tragedy (murder of then pregnant wife Sharon Tate). Leave him alone already.
Lets face it, our prosecutors can be ego maniacs sometimes.

This is ridiculous I happen to love young nubile women. What's wrong with maiming people I do it all the time

It's about time this pervert gets justice! hurrah

I am just sitting at home here in Zurich, having been looking forward to attend the Film Festival and cannot believe this farce. I am well aware of Polanski's artistic oevre and respect his movies, even though I don't consider myself a fan of his. I've read many times many versions about this "rape" case and though he did have sex with a minor the question remains what this minor was doing at Nicholson's place in the first case?! Some 30 years ago! They were both looking for trouble and they got it and the case is long over. Sorry, but an underage girl at a Hollywood party is not there to talk Nietzsche with the hosts.
Might the Swiss authorities actually try to please the United States in order to placate the uproar over the ongoing banking dispute between the two countries? Come on, this from the country that just excused itself to Ghaddafi for having (justifiedly!!!) arrested his abusive son last year for battery of his personal slaves in Geneva.

In all the press I have read in regards to Roman Polanski it has failed to mention that he has been 'alleged' to of raped a minor. They just print that he is a fugitive over raping a minor. The US sucks and I would run too, go Roman!

Another child molester apprehended. Maybe Garridos' future cellmate.

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

A 13 year old....and the Post a Comment above says if you're under 13 you can't comment here...ironic...

The LA County district attorney’s office should hold their collective heads in shame! Internationally this is embarrassing and makes the US justice system look vindictive & pathetic.

Poor guy. Hasn't he suffered enough? Let's forget about the laws that he broke because he happens to have some talent in the field of entertainment. I guess the same laws that protected Michael Jackson also apply here. Bring him back to this country and put him in prison.

it been globaly well know that 13 yr old girls dont need to be drugged to have sex, they usually bring their own.

I don't believe it. The U.S. government extraditing a felon for a crime that has as many faults with both parties, the accuser and accused, and yet, we don't bring to trial the perpetrators of war crimes, genocide, corruption to the nth degree, and these are just the tip of the judicial iceberg. What parent would allow their daughters to be with a grown man alone in a mansion, where most likely, drugs were been used and children, regarding sex, are not that child anymore; not then, not now. What happened to statute limitations? I thought that they only crime exempt from that rule was a homicide. This case proves without any doubt how our judicial system has lowered its standards. We don't relent in bringing to justice a case, that most likely was consensual and yet when we are talking war crimes, nobody wants to do any thing about them. Is this hog haven hypocrisy or what.

ANOTHER case of DA Steve Cooley's office being unable to 'let go" of an ancient case because they have their own vanity at stake, can't face the fact that they might actually lose out on Polanski.

Yes Polanski is guilty as sin, yes it was disgusting to have consensual sex with a 13-year old: as the mother of teens I think Polanski is the lowest form of life to take advantage: especially of someone barely a teen whose hormones far exceed common sense. It's bad enough after 16, but this young is a child. Yes, it's too bad he had the ability to make a successful life after that as though he were flaunting the law.

BUT Cooley is taking this too PERSONALLY again as his own "loss" in not being able to "get" someone. That is his pattern, and what is dangerous about the man and how his whole DA's office operates.

The victim now, 32 years later, has been pleading for the case to be DROPPED. She does not want to relive it, to have to testify, admits it was consensual and now as a middle-aged woman, wants the episode to go away. Polanski is 78 years old, and while like Woody Allen may be a creepy person when it comes to his relationships, he is not a menace to anyone now and hasn't been in 32 years. Pursuing him and this case is an expense we can't justify when there are so many more pressing, dangerous criminals out there, from rapists to felons to ID thieves. There is no reason to "get" him, every reason "not" to.

This case is different from those of Lisker, just released with great reluctance by Cooley's office after he served decades in prison for a crime he probably did not commit, for which there was no evidence, but after scoring a conviction the DA's office refused to admit its mistake and preferred to hide the evidence: namely Lisker, and as this paper's own editorial said last week, instead of apologizing to him for stealing decades of his life, "kicked him on his way out the door."

In the case of Deborah Peagler, a poor black woman who killed an abusive boyfriend/ pimp decades ago, the DA's office new she should have been released almost 2 decades earlier but continued to hold her for First Degree instead of manslaugher anyway, to cover up their bungling, and fought her release until she finally was released recently with months to live from terminal cancer.

A Superior Court judge ruling for her release blasted Cooley, his Chief Deputy Curt Livesay (not handed over to Trutanich by Cooley as HIS chief Deputy) for a culture of covering up, "circling the wagons" to prevent the truth from being revealed, and intimidation of underlings who might blow their cover.

Again, no apology from them, just anger that their "record" at keeping people convicted (even on FALSE evidence or by withholding evidence that would exonerate them, as in Peagler's case) in jail for life was being ruined. It's ALL about ego to them, specifically Steve Cooley, and THAT makes the fact that he operates with a feeling of certainly HE can get away with anything, the really scary issue here. Far more than anyone should be scared of Polanski.

Is this a joke? Why now? Polanski has been openly visiting Switzerland for decades.
I'm not sure who directly had the idea of dragging a 76 year old fugitive here for a media show trial but there's a surreal air about this case and something stinks about the timing. The DA's office has hardly had a good success rate with such trials. Guess they are all still smarting over the Jackson trial?
This will be a total farce and a national disgrace: no matter the outcome.

child rapists including woody allen and roman polanski should be publicly executed

I guess his vanity got the better of him? What a waste of taxpayer money. LA DA needs to go.

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