Poland, friends hail Polanski's freedom

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Poland Monday hailed Switzerland's refusal to extradite Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski to the United States over a 1977 child sex case.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski thanked his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey in a phone conversation for the "prudent decision" to release Polanski, a dual French-Polish citizen.

"A solution was found which takes into consideration the complicated legal terms of this case and the life situation of Roman Polanski," a Polish foreign ministry statement said.

Polanski's friends and colleagues in Poland also said they welcomed the Swiss decision "with joy and bitterness" over his lengthy arrest.

"It's very happy news, but there's also bitterness over the months of life taken from Roman," Jacek Bromski, head of Poland's film directors' association, told AFP.

"His detention was illegitimate from the beginning and everyone knew it," Bromski said.

After his dramatic arrest by Swiss authorities last year, Polanski spent time under house arrest in his Swiss home pending the decision of Swiss authorities whether to hand him over to the US.

Swiss authorities decided Monday against extraditing the director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" as it could not be excluded that the 76-year-old Polanski had already served sufficient time in jail.

The three-decades-old case involved a 13-year-old girl called Samantha Geimer who Polanski plied with champagne and drugs during a photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor friend Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.

Born in Paris in 1933 into a Polish-Jewish family, Polanski returned to Poland in 1936 where he survived the Holocaust and made his first films before moving to France in 1961, then briefly to Britain and the US by 1968.

Before sentencing in a plea agreement in the Geimer case in 1977 he fled from the US to France.

© 2010 AFP

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