Bid to arrest Polanski angers Polish rulers

An adviser to the Polish president accused US authorities yesterday of "absolute ignorance" in seeking the arrest of film director Roman Polanski, a Holocaust survivor, while he was in Poland last week for the opening of a Jewish history museum.

The comments underline the dilemma of Poland in the face of continued attempts by the US to seek Polanski’s arrest on 1977 charges of having sex with a minor.

Poland is a close US ally. However, the Polish political class has shown a strong aversion to extraditing the Oscar-winning Polish-French filmmaker, who is admired as a representative of Polish culture.

“I think that Polish citizens, especially in cases of crimes whose statute of limitations have run out, should not be subject to extradition,” said prime minister Ewa Kopacz when asked about the Polanski case.

Polanski, 81, who lives in France, attended the opening of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on October 28 before travelling to Krakow, his childhood city. Polish authorities questioned him because of the US request, but refused to arrest him.

Tomasz Nalecz, adviser to Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, said he felt it was inappropriate to seek the arrest of a “child of the Holocaust” in Poland during the opening of the museum, which highlights Poland’s role as a safe haven for Jews for centuries before the Holocaust.

Polanski, who has Jewish origins, lost his mother at Auschwitz. He survived the war by assuming a non-Jewish identity.

Polish media say Polanski has been seeking guarantees that Poland will not extradite him as he plans to direct a film in Poland next year based on the Dreyfus affair.

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