As many of you already know, the Oscar™-winning film-maker Roman Raymond Polanski was arrested last Saturday as he arrived to Switzerland in order to receive a “lifetime achievement award” at the Zurich film festival.
Police agents stated Polanski had been detained in the city on Saturday night at the request of the United States of America (“USA”) Justice Department, and was in custody awaiting extradition, according to The Guardian.
The detention has awoken the rage of French and Polish nationals, including diplomats and people from the show business.
Roman Polanski (Roman Rajmund Polański) was born in Paris, France in 1933 of Polish refugee parents. His mother allegedly died in Auschwitz during the Second World War and he fled to Krakow (Poland) where he began his career has film-maker.
Polanski’s detention follows up an antique legal process carried out in the USA where he faces charges of child molestation, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, rape by use of drugs, oral copulation and sodomy. Supposedly Roman Polanski had sexual intercourse with Samantha Geimer in 1977 when she was just thirteen years old; he was forty-tree at the time.
According to Geimer’s statements, the film-maker asked her to take part in a “private” photo shoot at Jack Nicholson’s property in Califonia; he put her in the bathtub, he made her drink several glasses of champagne and a powerful sedative, before the sexual intercourse took place.
After these grotesque events, and the legal process which naturally followed, Polanski left USA in 1978 and has not set foot on that country (at least not publicly) in thirty-one years, but he regularly visits countries that do not have extradition treaties with the USA.
So far the facts are:
-Roman Polanski had unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor
-Such conduct is considered a crime in the USA
-Roman Polanski ran away from the justice and should be considered a fugitive
However, Frédéric Mitterrand (nephew of the late socialist president François Mitterrand), the French culture minister, said the arrest was proof of the “frightening” side of America; he also said the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, wants to see the director reunited swiftly with his family. According to The Guardian, Mitterrand stated that he is “dumbfounded” by Polanski’s “absolutely dreadful” detention, declaring forcibly that it made “no sense” for the director to be “thrown to the lions for an ancient story, imprisoned while travelling to an event that was intending to honour him: caught, in short, in a trap”. The film-maker, Mitterrand continued, has “had a difficult life” but has “always said how much he loves France, and he is a wonderful man”.
The Oscar™-winning director Andrzej Wajda and other Polish filmmakers have appealed to the US, Swiss and Polish authorities for Polanski to be freed.
Meanwhile, a large group of French actors and cinematographers including Fanny Ardant, Pierre Jolivet, Jean-Jacques Beineix and Bertrand Tavernier have signed an angry petition calling for Polanski’s “immediate liberation”, considering it “inadmissible” that “an international cultural event paying homage to one of the greatest of contemporary cineastes” should be turned into “a police trap”. Polanski, said their petition – organised by Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes film festival – is “a French citizen, an artist of international renown, and is now threatened with extradition. That extradition . . . would deprive him of his liberty. We demand that he be freed immediately.”
On the other hand, as said by Telegraph daily, Samantha Geimer said earlier this year “I am no longer a 13-year-old child. I have dealt with the difficulties of being a victim” and recently gave her backing to Polanski’s campaign to have criminal proceedings dropped.
So, should Polanski be freed? Should the Court forgive him?
I certainly do not think so. If Polanski is a criminal he should face his responsibility with the society (and its laws) as any other citizen. I do not know of any western country which nowadays considers sexual relationships with kids to be permitted.
If the warrant for his arrest is still valid after 31 years (in terms of USA criminal law) his detention should be followed by his extradition to the USA, where he ought to be incarcerated for as much time as the judge orders to.
September 29th, 2009