French government drops support for Polanski

1st October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The French government on Wednesday dropped its public support for Roman Polanski, saying that the Oscar-winning director held in Switzerland over a three-decade-old child sex case was not "above the law."

"Roman Polanski is neither above nor beneath the law," said government spokesman Luc Chatel.

"We have a judicial procedure under way, for a serious affair, the rape of a minor, on which the American and Swiss legal systems are doing their job," he told reporters.

He added: "One can understand the emotion that this belated arrest, more than 30 years after the incident, and the method of the arrest, have caused."

Polanski, who fled the United States in 1978 before sentencing, having pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, was arrested on Saturday as he arrived in Zurich to collect a film festival award.

The French government had earlier this week expressed outrage over the arrest, with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner calling on US authorities to allow Polanski to be freed.

Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand called the arrest of the Franco-Polish film-maker, who lives in Paris, "absolutely horrifying" and said it showed "a side of America which is frightening."

Chatel, asked by reporters to comment on the culture minister's reaction, which some members of the ruling party here have criticised, said: "Frederic Mitterrand was speaking from the heart."

Switzerland says Polanski is being held under an international alert issued by the United States in 2005. Polanski can launch several appeals, so a final extradition decision could take weeks or months, legal experts said.


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