Swiss politicians defend Polanski arrest

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Swiss politicians on Wednesday said the child sex charges against the filmmaker must not be minimised.

Zurich -- Swiss politicians on Wednesday defended the arrest of Roman Polanski, saying that the child sex charges against the Oscar-winning Franco-Polish director must not be diminished.

"It is really shocking to me that the facts against Polanski are being minimised," said Maria Roth-Bernasconi, a Socialist Party parliamentarian.

Polanski, who fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, was arrested Saturday as he arrived in Zurich to collect a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

His arrest at first provoked anger from Polanski's supporters, particularly in Paris and Warsaw.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking his release.

"It is serious that the French ministers are intervening in a debate on the law," said Roth-Bernasconi.

Her Christian-Democrat colleague, Dominique de Buman, also said that "everyone is equal" before the law and that Switzerland was required to fulfil its international legal obligations.

Leonard Bender, a parliamentarian from the centre-right Liberals, said that in this case, "Switzerland bent before the law and it is to its honour."

"It is clear that 32 years after the act, we can raise the question of the statute of limitations," he said.

However, "in no case could the authorities remove their legal obligations," he added.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey admitted that using an invitation to a film festival to arrest Polanski "lacked tact" on Switzerland's part.

But, she told journalists, "There’s a treaty with the United States and Switzerland respects treaties."

Divisions emerged Wednesday in Poland's establishment over Polanski, with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk distancing himself from Sikorski's call for the director to be freed.

"This case of course involved a leading Polish director, and dates back many years, but it's also about rape, and sex with a child. We mustn't mix that with politics, or play the patriotic card," Tusk told reporters.

AFP / Expatica

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