Polanski challenges Swiss detention

OSCAR-WINNING director Roman Polanski yesterday 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, 76 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 Herve Temime in Paris also said he would seek bail: “We are asking that he be released, if necessary with conditions attached.”

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 French-Polish filmmaker, who is regarded as a fugitive in the US, 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 yesterday of some 110 film industry figures who signed a petition calling for his release.

They included leading Hollywood figures like Martin Scorsese, 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 US over a 1977 case in which he admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl.


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