The long arm of the law nabs Roman Polanski, just days after the death of Susan Atkins, one of the members of Charles Manson's family who helped kill his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, in 1969. If you want to know more about Polanski, check out the documentary called "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" from 2008.
From the Associated Press:
By ERNST E. ABEGG and BRADLEY S. KLAPPER
ZURICH (AP) - Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police as he flew in for the Zurich Film Festival and faces possible extradition to the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, authorities said Sunday.
Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.
"There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. "That's why he was taken into custody."
Polanski, the director of such classic films as "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," fled the U.S. for France in 1978, a year after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the underage girl.
Polanski has asked a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn a judges' refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it.
His victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.
Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the director will remain in Zurich until the conclusion of the extradition proceedings. The United States now has 60 days to file a formal request for Polanski's transfer, she said.
A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington declined to comment on the case Sunday.
Polanski's French lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told France-Inter radio that it was "too early to know" if Polanski would be extradited.
"The proceedings must take their course," he said Sunday. "For now we are trying to have the arrest warrant lifted in Zurich."
Kiejman later told The Associated Press that France does not extradite its citizens and that U.S. authorities had never asked France to prosecute Polanski at home.
Balmer said Polanski's arrest was not influenced by politics, even though the director has often traveled or stayed in the country. Novelist Robert Harris, whose book "Ghost" is being made into a movie by the director, told Britain's Press Association that Polanski owns a house in Gstaad, which he has visited regularly while filming in Germany, and that there was never any warning he faced arrest.
In the Swiss capital of Bern, Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters that Switzerland had only one legal option for dealing with Polanski's visit, and rejected the idea that there was any U.S. pressure in ordering the arrest.
"I know his films, they impressed me very much," she said, but she underlined that Polanski could not be given special treatment because of his artistic talent, especially because the warrant was not for a trivial complaint.
Switzerland joined Europe's passport-free area in 2008 and ended all passport checks in March on flights to and from the 24 other countries participating in the agreement. Even before then, it rarely closely monitored the identities of travelers from neighboring European countries entering Switzerland.
Balmer also rejected that the arrest was somehow aimed at winning favor with the U.S. after a series of bilateral spats over tax evasion and wealthy Americans stashing money at Swiss banking giant UBS AG.
"There is no link with any other issues in question," he told The AP.
Investigators in the U.S. learned of Polanski's planned trip days ago, giving them enough time to lay the groundwork for an arrest, said William Sorukas, chief of the U.S. Marshals Service's domestic investigations branch.
"There have been other times through the years when we have learned of his potential travel but either those efforts fell through or he didn't make the trip," Sorukas told the AP.
Klapper reported from Geneva. The Associated Press' Angela Doland in Paris, Matt Moore in Berlin and Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report.