Famed “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski remains in Swiss custody under provisional detention today, awaiting extradition to Los Angeles after being arrested in Zurich on Saturday. Prosecutors sent a provisional arrest warrant to the U.S. Justice Department, which presented it to Swiss authorities says The Los Angeles Times.
Polanski was arrested thirty one years ago at a Beverly Hills hotel after a thirteen-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s house. Pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1977, court terms permitted him to travel abroad and he fled the country for the UK and soon after France. France can refuse to extradite its own citizens to the US and an extradition request later filed by U.S. officials was denied.
As a result Polanski has not returned to the U.S. or any countries that are likely to extradite him (such as the UK) since then but continues to work as a director from his home base in France where he shot such films as “Frantic,” “The Ninth Gate,” “Bitter Moon” and the Oscar-winning “The Pianist”.
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said they learned last week that Polanski had plans to travel to Zurich this weekend to receive an award at the film festival and prepared paperwork for his arrest as Switzerland which has extradition treaties with the US.
Polanski, now a 76-year-old married father of two, has made two previous failed attempts to get the case thrown out, most recently last year based on new allegations of prosectorial and judicial misconduct detailed in the HBO documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”. Samantha Geimer, the girl at the centre of the allegations, has since publicly forgiven him for the crime and has urged US authorities to drop the case.
A spokesman for the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police says that if Polanski agrees with an extradition, he could be sent to the U.S. in the next few days but if not, a lengthy court process could stretch out for months or years.
A few hours ago, French and Polish officials urged Switzerland to free Polanski on bail and pressed U.S. officials all the way up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the case according to the Associated Press.