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Film-maker Polanski arrested
Swiss police take director into custody on 31-year-old US arrest warrent.
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2009 15:11 GMT
Polanksi, who won awards for The Pianist, has often found himself in the media spotlight [AFP]

Roman Polanski, the award-winning film director, has been arrested in Switzerland on a US arrest warrant, dating from 1978, for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The Swiss justice ministry on Sunday confirmed the arrest of the film-maker, whose life has on occasion resembled the often violent world of his work.

A Swiss justice ministry spokesman said: "I confirm that Mr Polanski has been arrested. The American authorities issued an international search request in 2005 in relation to a 1978 warrant."

Polanski was detained in Switzerland on Saturday when he arrived to attend the Zurich film festival where he was to receive a prize for his work.

Festival directors said they had received the news of Polanski's arrest "with great consternation and shock", but that they would go ahead with a planned retrospective of his work.

Troubled past

Polanski was arrested in the US in the late 1970s and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to a 13-year-old girl and having unlawful sex with her at a photographic shoot at the Hollywood home of Jack Nicholson, the American actor.

Maintaining the girl was sexually experienced and had consented, Polanski spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests but fled the country before being sentenced.

Samantha Geimer, the victim, who long ago identified herself publicly, sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

She has since joined in Polanski's bid for the case to be dismissed.

But Polanski is considered by the US authorities as a fugitive from justice and since fleeing America, he has lived in France avoiding countries that have extradition treaties with the US.

Award winner

Polanski's life has often featured in the media, first after the murder of Sharon Tate, his pregnant wife, by the Charles Manson murder gang in 1969.

Eight years later he was in the spotlight again when he was arrested for Geimer's rape.

A native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, Polanski escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto as a child and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in the 1940s.

He worked his way into film-making in Poland, gaining an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film in 1964 for Knife in the Water.

Offered entry to Hollywood, he directed Rosemary's Baby in 1968 and went on to make another American classic, Chinatown released in 1974.

In 2003, he won the Best Director Oscar for The Pianist.

Source:
Agencies
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