September 27, 2009

Film director Polanski arrested in Zurich

Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland for a 1977 underage sex case in the United States, film festival organizers say.

Polanski was in Zurich Saturday to attend the city's international film festival and accept an achievement award when he was arrested, festival organizers told CNN.

Roman Polanski, who is one of the greatest film directors of all time, would have been honored for his life's work in Zurich today, the film festival said in a statement. However yesterday, on Saturday, he was taken into custody while attempting to enter Switzerland due to a request by U.S. authorities in connection with an arrest warrant from 1978.

The director of Chinatown and The Pianist was first arrested in 1977 and charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl at actor Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home, the U.S. broadcaster said. Polanski pleaded guilty and spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests, but fled in 1978 before being sentenced.

Attempts to settle the case over the years have been hamstrung by Polanski's refusal to return to the United States to attend hearings. Earlier this year, a Los Angeles judge rejected a request to have the charges thrown out, CNN reported.