Director Roman Polanski was arrested on Saturday as he arrived at the Zurich airport to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley's office had sent an arrest warrant to Switzerland, via the Justice Department, after learning that Polanski had travel plans, says Harriet Ryan of the L.A. Times. The warrant dates from Polanski's 1978 conviction in Los Angeles for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer, at Jack Nicholson's home off Mulholland Drive. Polanski fled the U.S. before sentencing. Negotiations on resolution of the charge broke down earlier this year. From the LAT:
On at least two previous occasions, the district attorney’s office has received reports that Polanski had travel arrangements to countries with extradition treaties with the U.S. and prepared paperwork for his arrest, [DA's spokeswoman Sandi] Gibbons said.
“But in the end, he apparently found out about it and didn’t go,” she said.
Polanski, now 76, can fight extradition from Switzerland. Here's what the Swiss say:
Yesterday evening Roman Polanski was arrested at his arrival and was put in provisional detention in view to extradition based on an US arrest warrant. The US authorities are accusing Roman Polanski of sexual acts with minors, specifically in a case of 1977 with a 13 year old girl in Los Angeles. Since the end of 2005 the US authorities are searching worldwide for Roman Polanski.
An US arrest warrant against Roman Polanski exists since 1978. Whether Roman Polanski will be effectively extradited to the USA or not, can be established only, after the extradition process judicially has been finalised. It is possible to appeal at the federal penal court of justice against an arrest warrant in view to extradition as well as against an extradition decision. Their decisions can be taken further to the federal court of justice. In respect to this pending process it is not possible to give any further information.