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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Polanski's capture was always planned

US prosecutors have disputed claims Roman Polanski's arrest came out of the blue, saying he had been on a Interpol "wanted list" for years.

Mr Polanski is being held in Switzerland on a US arrest warrant over his conviction, 30 years ago, for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

His agent, Jeff Berg, said the arrest made "no sense" as he had travelled extensively across Europe.

But US authorities inferred Mr Polanski has been adept at evading arrest.

"The idea that we have known where he is and we could have gotten him anytime, that just isn't the case," said Chief Inspector of the US Marshals Service Thomas Hession.

'Careful man'

He said the 76-year-old Polish director had been on "red notice" by Interpol, alerting other countries that the US was seeking extradition.

Emmanuelle Seigner
Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner has been allowed to visit him in jail

But he added that proper legal channels had to be followed which meant they had to know Mr Polanski's specific whereabouts before a country could be asked to act.

Previously, Los Angeles deputy district attorney Richard Doyle had stated in court testimony: "He knows where he can go. He knows where he can't go. He's been a careful man all these years."

But Mr Berg said: "How hard would it be to find someone shooting a major film in a European country?"

"He travels with transparency across Europe. It makes no sense."

Mr Polanski's lawyers are likely to seek bail but the precedent in Swiss law shows that the subjects of extradition requests are normally kept in detention.

He is being held in Zurich, where he has been allowed to meet with his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, as well as lawyers.

Post-production work on Mr Polanski's latest film The Ghost, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor, has been halted.

Mr Berg said that while editing had been completed, there was still work to do on the music score and other post-production details.

Staying away

Meanwhile, a petition circulating in France, where the director has made his home, has drawn support from film-makers including Pedro Almodovar, Stephen Frears and The Pianist writer Ronald Harewood.

Mr Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with an underage girl following a plea bargain. He had originally been charged with six offences including rape and sodomy.

But he fled the US before he could be sentenced and has not returned to the country since.

In the past year, his legal team has had a request turned down to have a hearing on the rape charge heard outside the US.

Lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed on the grounds that the original trial was the subject of "judicial and prosecutorial misconduct".

The victim at the centre of the case, Samantha Geimer, has previously asked for the charges to be dropped. She has already sued Mr Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.


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