Roman Polanski Arrested In Switzerland, Faces Extradition to US


Filmmaker and fugitive Roman Polanski was arrested Saturday in Switzerland, where the director had arrived to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Zurich Film Festival. He never made it out of the airport: Observing the worldwide arrest warrant in effect since Polanski fled sentencing for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old in 1978, Swiss police met his flight and took him into custody, where he awaits possible extradition back to the United States.

The AP reported the arrest this morning, citing a statement announcing that Polanski, 76, is in "provisional detention for extradition." The filmmaker is expected to contest the proceedings in a Swiss court before his return to the States is assured. He could be back on American soil this week.

It's a swift, stunning development coming after more than three decades of Polanski living and working in France, whose extradition treaties with the U.S. notoriously don't cover French citizens (especially filmmakers) who've drugged and raped adolescent girls. Polanski fled there after doing 42 days in jail during an "evaluation" period in 1978. His case returned to the spotlight last year when Marina Zenovich's documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired revealed judicial improprieties surrounding Polanski's guilty plea and subsequent sentencing.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office acknowledged a review (and thus a potential dismissal) of the case was in order, but added that any such review would only take place if Polanski turned himself in. He didn't fall for it, and thanks to the vigilant Swiss authorities, he didn't have to. "There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," justice ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told the AP. "That's why he was taken into custody."

Naturally the Zurich Film Festival directors "received this news with great consternation and shock," according to a release on the festival's Web site. The fest also announced it would proceed with its tribute "to give everyone who would like to express their solidarity as well as their admiration a chance to share this feeling."

"We are unable to judge the legal background surrounding the arrest of Roman Polanski," the directors added in a statement. "We are shocked and unable to comprehend this situation, which has affected us deeply. At no time were we aware of the planned arrest of Roman Polanski. This evening's scheduled homage to Roman Polanski's cinematographic oeuvre was intended to express our admiration for one of the most exceptional filmmakers of our time."

Indeed, there's nothing like welcoming a wanted fugitive to zap the fest buzz. On behalf of the United States, I apologize. Sort of. You can have him back just as soon as we're done with him, we promise. Whenever that is. Developing...

· Swiss arrest Polanski on US request in sex case [AP]


  • The Pope says:

    How many chapters are there to his life? Just when you think the plot-line has followed itself through to the end, woops, up comes another episode.

  • SUNDAY says:

    They ought to castrate him,chemically sterilize him and send him to Moses.

  • Donovan says:

    Well, that's him finished. He should have taken the goddamn train instead of flying. Now he'll die in a U.S. prison... all thanks to a guy called "Guido".

  • Fred Scott says:

    S.T.Vanairsdale, you are an areshole

  • How could he have fallen for this sting? Haven't wanted fugitves been busted with the old "you've won tickets to the Superbowl, or World Series, or Polanski Fesitival" thing before?

  • GJ says:

    Extradition to the US? What a farce! No one should be extradited to the jurisdiction of a savage regime that still belives in the death penalty, but lets the worst kind of perverted offenders go free if a police officer has committed a minor procedural error. Or to a country that sends morally ignorant rednecks to Abu Graibh, but still refuses to subject its own soliders to international jurisdiction in cases of war crimes. The French legal system, and those of other civilized, European countries may not be perfect. But all of Western Europe's legal systems are mature and advanced compared to the adolenscent arrogance that prevails in US legal thinking and practise.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Two statements from the victim>
    "True as they may be, the continued publication of those details causes harm to me, my beloved husband, my three children and my mother," she said. "I have become a victim of the actions of the district attorney."
    Then she says this>
    "If Polanski comes back – fine. That would at least end it. It will never be over until that happens."
    Seems she has wanted this story to end and by Polanski remaining a fugitive it has kept the facts alive and they continue to cause her and her family harm. This should be taken into account as part of the abuse he has inflicted on this woman.
    Polanski was (and is) in a position where many, many woman are available to him. For him to consciously choose to drug and have anal intercourse with a 13 year girl is pathological and criminal. (as it would be under any circumstance, but when a person of fame and power chooses this action, even more so.)
    It is interesting how many people want to let Polanski off for his self-admitted actions and yet so many people still believe Michael Jackson guilty of something which was never proven.

  • HwoodHills says:

    Wow...Looks like the old, "You've won a large screen TV so come down and pick it up!" fugitive trick has moved up a tier.

  • SunnydaZe says:


  • HwoodHills says:

    (Apologies. Didn't read the similar answer posted above.)

  • Michael Adams says:

    There's no statute of limitations on prosecution for Bitter Moon, is there?

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    forget it roman, it's switzerland...

  • Touche! For the good of their maturation process, all of our sexual predators should be taken in by Western Europe. It's the only way we'll learn.

  • Das Quirkster says:

    Oh, that's OK. It was especially funny the first time 'round, so you came out semi-unscathed.

  • Lowbrow says:

    To Catch a Predator: Celebrity Edition.