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Sarkozy criticizes arrest of Roman Polanski

October 16, 2009 |  7:14 am

The arrest of Roman Polanski was "not a good administration of justice," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy is the latest -- and most senior -- French official to raise questions about the case against Polanski, who was taken into custody in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this month for extradition to Los Angeles. Polanski fled L.A. three decades ago to avoid sentencing after pleading guilty in the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.

In an interview with Le Figaro, Sarkozy noted Polanski's age.

"I understand that people are shocked by the gravity of the accusations against Roman Polanski," he told the paper. "But I add that it is not a good administration of justice to do this 32 years after the facts when the person concerned is today 76 years old."

Attorneys for Polanski are lobbying U.S. officials not to extradite him.

A team of American attorneys for Polanski met with a deputy assistant attorney general and other Justice Department officials Oct. 2 and presented them with arguments against returning the director to the U.S. to face sentencing, according to a letter included in an appellate court filing.

His supporters have questioned the timing of the arrest, noting that Polanski has been to Switzerland many times and even has a chalet at a Swiss resort.

But Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf insisted that authorities never knew Polanski traveled to Switzerland until L.A. prosecutors informed them that the director planned to attend the festival.

--Shelby Grad

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