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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)

Good it's about time he needs to face justice and he should be sentenced to jail.I know that won't make a lot of Hollywood people happy but grown men having sexual contact with a 13 year old child does not make me happy. Just for the record I do not care that the victim wants to be done with this situation nor do I care that he is a great director or that his wife and unborn child were victims of a horrible senseless crime many other people who have as hard life stories get sentenced to jail when they are convicted of a crime Roman Polanski should not be treated any differently.

There was an agreement that the judge tried to renege on. If there was a prosectorial and judicial misconduct conducted (as current facts have come out just recently), then the case should (and should have years ago) been thrown out. Hasn't the statue of limitations already expired for this?

Polanski has made his legal restitution far above what the legal statute requires, which was accepted. The victim, Samantha Geimer has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement. Under the laws of California, he did time served as the original plea called for and paid the financial penalties.

Why pursue it except to make a name for some new DA who might be running for office?

And not one of his lawyers ever told Polanski that Switzerland has an extradition treaty with the US? He should be in jail for stupidity as well as for rape.

Hopefully he will get a fair trial in the Gang and Illegal Alien
Capital of the USA where some laws are upheld
and others are ignored!

Poor poor, Roman, it obvious who the REAL victim is here! You rape and sodomize one 13 year old girl and right away the finger pointing starts. The man males good movies (for the most part) does that not give him right to engage in a little child molestation without all attention? Sure, he is a fugitive from justice but they were going to lock this genius up! How unfair would that be? That this talented director have to pay for his disgusting crimes just like any every day criminal?

Switzerland has 2 of its citizen held hostage by Ghadafi. It could very well be that they are looking for the help of the USA.

Speaking of stupidity, it was Polanski's own lawyers who brought his case back to the attention of the district attorney by going into court and trying to get his conviction overturned without the appearance of the fugitive himself. Good move lawyers!

Not saying what Roman Polanski did was right...it certainly wasn't but if one is going to go after him after all this time, shouldn't they be also going after OTHER famous people who did similar things? Look at Led Zeppelin...most of them were diddling teenaged groupies back then, too...and yet, they walk free, don't they?

This is completely ridiculous.

Finally, the DA has a high profile case to curl his feathers.

Perhaps he'll start paying attention to the hundreds of homicides and rapes in modern day L.A., now that he has wasted tax dollars on an old old celebrity case...surely Natasha Kinski doesn't give a damn.

Statutory Rape of a 13-year-old girl. You people are SICK!

He had a deal in place, and then a crooked judge reneged on it. That's not fair.
The girl, now 45, wants no part of it. This sounds to me like a DA running for higher office and trying to score points.

The US should have better things to do right now don't they? Arresting this man over something that happened decades ago and even the victim is OVER IT.
She is NOT scarred by what happened. She has moved on and so has Polanski. Our court system here sucks in LA. We are going through shooting after shooting,look at S.LA! And we are spending OUR money to have him extradited back the US and incarcerated? The courts here are just waiting for a media court day I suppose. This man has survived the Holocaust & the murder of his wife & unborn child. Including close friends. HE HAS SUFFERED ENOUGH!!
The Swiss authorties need to release this man and tell the US court to get lost! This is embarrassing to us!

About damn time this pervert does his deserved time for this crime of rape, oral sex and sodomy of a 13 year old girl! If he was anyone else, he would have been in jail forthwith! Not a waste of taxpayers money in my mind. Why can't people see that it's not right to let people off like this just because of their "name". I guess those same people would suggest that Jaycee be put back in her backyard prison with that nut and let him out too just because she was there for a long time. People have some common sense already! Don't try to dovetail one issue or case with another. This man is a pervert and should be held accountable for his convicted crime. Otherwise simple give amnesty to all those who've been convicted or are on the run for a convicted crime after XX period of time. Send the message to their victim(s) dead and/or alive and their heart-broken family members left to live a life without their loved ones that we no longer care about their no justice given.

I am stunned by some of the comments here about the victim's culpability in this statutory rape. This girl was only 13 at the time and legally incapable of consent. He was a 43 year-old worldly man who indulged his perversions at her expense. I don't necessarily think it is worth our time and money to pursue an old man 33 years later, but claiming that this child asked for it or should have known what she was getting herself into is sick.

Why do people here get so defensive of this slimey creep. Even give him awards for his crappy films. He is accused of raping a 13 year old. Let him face the charges and the law. I truely feel that liberals suffer from a form of mental illness and this bizarro defensiveness of Roman Polanski is yet another example.

He pleaded guilty (and paid off the victim civilly), so he's actually guilty. Then he ran away before sentencing. Had he faced the music, it'd all have been forgotten decades ago. Even if parts of the HBO "documentary" are to be believed, he could have appealed any injustice. He's being extradited to show that running away won't help the guilty.

Im not sure what the big deal is. I mean being gay and all and the fact that I like men I do not think what Roman did is such a big deal. I initially thought there was something wrong with liking men too but now look at me Im out and about. Im in it to win it. I say set Roman free, we need more people like Roman out there. This was a set up. I was set up once at a bath house. Didn't see it coming either. Imagine poor Roman up there on the stage to accept his award. As a gay man and on the behalf of my community I say let him go.

He should have hired Hugh Rodham for a pardon . The good news is some lawyer's daughter gets a full ride scholarship .

I say set him free. I think this is ridiculous. I was supposed to buy my girlfriend a wedding ring and instead I bought myself a Rolex, now that is ridiculous. I thought I was going to get locked up for that but did I ? No. In fact Im getting married Thanksgiving weekend now. So now you're going to lock up poor Roman Polanski. I say set him free.

Im glad they finally caught up with him. I have a great photo of myself wearing a leotard that recently caught up with me. I recently opened a nail salon, thats right me a guy a full grown male opening a nail salon. You think if I stopped paying my lease the government wouldnt come after me this is ridiculous

This is crazy its too late to press charges now. Cant we all just be nice to everyone. Lets just be nice guys. Cant we all just get along. I say we just let everyone roam free. Lets all just go hunting together. Lets go camping, brokeback style. I think they should set him free.

Give us , us free. I loves me some Roman Polanski. I loves me some Rosemarys baby. Let Roman go.

As a British women, I was appalled that in the USA you have men, who are willing to openly state they think that a 13 year old child drugged or otherwise could consent to sexual activity with an older male.

It is sad that Polanski did not face justice many years ago - that was his choice - not the survivor of the abuse that he already has made admissions to harming. The Justice system he ran from, is a justice system that he found acceptable in the case of his own wifes's murder.

If people feel they need to use their energy - do not let it be in defence of this man who harms the reputation of America, has not paid tax to your society or faced up to the courts - but think instead of ways of using your energy to:
1. Prevent abuse of children.
2. Sending out a message to all nations that it is wrong to normalise sex with children under sixteen - be they the children of the poor pushed into sex tourism or children in the so called 'developed world' who society are failing to safeguard.

As a society we reap what we sow - and by not taking action, for years the USA has in effect said it is fine to abuse children.

He is a great movie maker. He is a great director. He is a great producer. He has suffered greatly in his life - losing his mother to the holocaust, growing up poor.

However, he must stand in response to this crime on a 13 year old. I am sorry, but if he were a black or latino dude living in L.A. and this subject came up, there would be riots if he was able to make a deal to spend a few days in jail and get out to continue his life as usual.

Am I the only one here seeing this?

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