11:50 28 September 2009
Veteran filmmaker Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland over the weekend, held on a warrant issued by an American court 31 years ago.
The Oscar winning director was in the country to accept an honorary award and attend a career retrospective at the Zurich Film Festival but was detained as soon as he stepped off the plane.
In 1977 he had admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl he was photographing for the French edition of Vogue. The incident happened at Jack Nicholson's house an actor he guided in the classic 1974 thriller 'Chinatown'.
Since fleeing the US in 1978, Polanski has lived in France for the past three decades, continuing his successful career outside of the Hollywood system.
His life has been steeped in tragedy. His mother died in an Auschwitz gas chamber, and in 1969 his wife Sharon Tate was murdered while she was eight months pregnant by followers of the Charles Manson cult.
Polanksi spent 42 days in jail undergoing psychiatric tests after the statutory rape allegations became a media frenzy in 1977.
The girl named Samantha Gailey (now known as Samantha Geimer) has since publicly forgiven him and urged that all charges should be dropped, but it is believed that Polanski will still be extradited to the US to face charges.
Mr Polanski's agent, Jeff Berg, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the arrest was "surprising because Roman for the last 12, 15 years has lived in Switzerland, he has a home, he travels there, he works there". His lawyers claim they will be fighting the decision to prosecute.
Polanski won the Best Director Oscar in 2002 for 'The Pianist' but did not show up the ceremony through fear of arrest.
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