Poland questions Polanski after US extradition bid

15th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Polish prosecutors said Thursday they had questioned filmmaker Roman Polanski, as they weigh extraditing him to the United States for sentencing on charges he raped a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

The 81-year-old French-Polish director was questioned late Wednesday "in the context of the extradition request filed by the American side" earlier this month, according to a statement by the prosecutor's office in the southern city of Krakow.

It added that it would "soon" file a court motion, but did not say whether it would be to dismiss or accept the extradition bid.

Polish authorities have said extradition is possible. However, the justice ministry would still need to give the final go-ahead were the court to approve the US request.

The latest extradition bid comes months after the US attempted to have Polanski arrested for sexual offences when he travelled to Warsaw for the opening of a Jewish museum in October.

The director of "The Pianist", "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" told reporters he "trusts" Poland's justice system and will comply with the legal proceedings.

He said he was in Poland to work on a film about France's Dreyfus Affair, the case of an army captain wrongly convicted in 1894 of espionage and treason.

The story of the captain's ordeal has become a symbol of injustice and anti-Semitism.

Polanski was accused of raping Samantha Geimer, who was then 13, after a photo shoot in Los Angeles in 1977 when he was 43.

He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence.

US officials have pressed for his extradition regularly to no avail.

Polanski, who became a French citizen in 1976 after moving there from Poland, was arrested in Switzerland on an international warrant in 2009. He was released after nine months under house arrest.

His lawyers had requested a new hearing to try to close the case on procedural grounds, but a Los Angeles judge refused the move last month.


© 2015 AFP

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