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Europe

Polanski lodges formal complaint against his arrest

Video by France 2 / Kate Williams (France 24)

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-30

Film director Roman Polanski has filed a formal complaint against his detention in Switzerland, after he was detained at Zurich airport last weekend. His French lawyer has confirmed that he will seek bail.

AFP - Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski on Tuesday challenged his detention in Switzerland over a 32 year-old child sex case in the United States, as leading Hollywood figures rallied to his cause.
  
The top Swiss criminal court confirmed that Polanski had lodged a formal complaint against his arrest at Zurich airport pending a US extradition request.
  
"The second court of complaints of the Federal Criminal Tribunal confirms that it has received today a complaint by Roman Polanski against the arrest warrant for extradition," the Swiss tribunal said in a statement.
  
His French lawyer in Paris also said he would seek bail. "We are asking that he be released, if necessary with conditions attached," Herve Temime told AFP.
  
A ruling on the complaint will be delivered in the coming weeks, the Swiss court said, as Polanski lined up for a lengthy legal battle to ward off the long-standing warrant issued by prosecutors in Los Angeles.
  
The 76-year-old French-Polish filmmaker, who is regarded as a fugitive in the United States, was arrested on Saturday as he arrived in Zurich to collect a lifetime achievement award at a local film festival.
  
After gaining political support from the French and Polish governments, the acclaimed director of "Chinatown", "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Pianist" received the backing on Tuesday of some 110 film industry figures who signed a petition calling for his release.
  
They included leading Hollywood figures like Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen, David Lynch, as well as Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodovar, Tilda Swinton and Monica Bellucci
  
"Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision," said the petition.
  
The French consul general Jean-Luc Faure-Tournaire, who visited Polanski in a Swiss prison on Monday, said he was being "well treated".
  
"He thanks the many people who have shown support through the press and public opinion," the consulate said in Zurich.
  
Swiss authorities say they are waiting for an extradition request from the United States over a 1977 case in which he admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
  
Los Angeles prosecutors confirmed Monday they would file a warrant seeking Polanski's return to the United States, noting they had 40 days to prepare it.
  
But Temime said the director rejected any prospect of extradition.
  
French Foreign Minister Kouchner said he was working with Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski to help Polanski and that they had jointly written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ask for the charges to be dropped.
  
"This affair is frankly a bit sinister. Here is a man of such talent, recognised worldwide, recognised especially in the country where he was arrested. This is not nice at all," Kouchner told France-Inter radio.
  
But the State Department said it would not wade into the row.
  
Polanski fled the United States in 1978 before sentencing on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He has never returned, even missing the Oscar award for "The Pianist" in 2003.
  
Temine said Polanski visits Switzerland often and owns a chalet in Gstaad where he spent three months this year.
  
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday Polanski's lawyers may have sparked the arrest by claiming that Los Angeles prosecutors had never sought to extradite him in 30 years.
  
It cited two unidentified sources familiar with Polanski's case as saying that court motions filed in July by defence attorneys had suggested prosecutors were not serious about capturing him.
  
In May, a Los Angeles judge refused Polanski's bid to dismiss the underage sex case after he failed to appear in court.
  
Polanski's legal team argued the conviction should be annulled because the judge who heard the 1970s case had improperly colluded with prosecutors. The judge has since died.
  

Date created : 2009-09-29

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