As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forget It Roman, It's... Switzerland?

I thought the Swiss were the neutral ones...

After more than 30 years as a fugitive from U.S. justice, Roman Polanski, the director of legendary films including “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” was arrested in Switzerland on an international warrant as he arrived in Zurich for a film festival featuring a retrospective of his work, the Swiss authorities said Sunday.

Mr. Polanski was detained by the police Saturday upon his arrival at the Zurich airport, said Guido Balmer, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Justice Department. The director was being held in provisional detention in preparation for a possible extradition to the United States based on an arrest warrant dating to 1978.

Mr. Polanski, 76, was convicted that year in a California court of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl whom he had lured to the home of Jack Nicholson and drugged. Faced with a prison term, he fled the United States just before his sentencing.

Samantha Geimer, the girl with whom Mr. Polanski had sex, has since publicly forgiven him.

Defense attorneys actually tried to get the Polanski case thrown out of court in Santa Monica this past year, but to no avail. And Polanski could still challenge the arrest warrant and potential extradition, in an appeals process that will last a while.

Laurie Essig has a real interesting story about this. I saw "Wanted and Desired," the movie about the Polanski case which led defense attorneys to try and nullify it, and there are certainly lots of shades of grey in there, including some prosecutors with an agenda and a headline-chasing judge who apparently backed out on a plea deal. Jeralyn Merritt calls the arrest outrageous.

I'm just stunned that the Swiss would involve themselves in this complicated issue, after letting Polanski in their country dozens of times over the past 30 years. They seemed so averse to controversy!

...the LA DA's office set up the arrest warrant. When a judge refused to throw out charges this year, he did so on the grounds that Polanski couldn't have them dropped while he was a fugitive from justice. It could be that Polanski gets extradited to the US, in a process that could take anywhere from a couple days to several months, only to appear before a judge who agrees to drop the charges.

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