Festival says director Roman Polanski in Swiss custody
By staff writers
has been arrested in Switzerland on a 31-year-old US warrant, AP reports.
Organisers of the Zurich Film Festival said Polanski was detained by police yesterday.
Zurich police did not immediately confirm the information to AP.
It is understood he traveled to Switzerland to receive a lifetime award for his work as a director.
Polanski fled the United States for France in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with an underage girl.
Polanski was originally indicted on six charges, including rape, for having sex with a 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and drugs.
He insisted the sex was consensual but pleaded guilty to a single count of having sex with a minor, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Polanski spent 42 days incarcerated for psychiatric evaluation in 1978, but fled before sentencing because he became convinced the judge intended to send him back to prison, contrary to a plea agreement he had made with prosecutors.
A citizen of his native France, Polanski cannot be extradited but faces arrest if he sets foot back on US soil.
Vilified in the U.S. media at the time, the director has earned a measure of sympathy in Hollywood and won an Academy Award for directing 2002's Holocaust drama "The Pianist."
His attorneys had sought to disqualify the entire Los Angeles County court system from hearing the matter, a request that was rejected earlier this month by a California appeals court.