Officials from the Polish prosecutor general’s office intend to summon film director Roman Polanski for questioning after U.S. prosecutors requested his extradition over a 1977 sex crime, The Independent said.
Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl but absconded before sentencing and has been a fugitive ever since. The 81-year-old director is currently staying in the Polish city of Krakow, where he is getting ready to shoot his next film, An Officer and A Spy, about the 19th-century Dreyfus affair, the report said.
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The case, which divided Parisian society at the time, involved the false conviction of French-Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus on drummed up charges of treason, The Hollywood Reporter said.
In October, the U.S. sought the extradition of Polanski when he visited Warsaw for the opening of a Jewish museum. The filmmaker was questioned but not arrested, and Polish prosecutors ultimately turned down the American request. Polanski’s Polish lawyer Jerzy Stachowicz told Reuters: “In our view no new circumstances have arisen which could lead to a change in the decision by the prosecutor’s office in October”, The Independent said.
Polanski was born in France to Jewish parents but was raised in Poland, where he survived the Holocaust by posing as a Roman Catholic. After becoming a filmmaker he moved back to France and then to the U.S., but is still seen by many Poles as one of the country’s leading cultural figures, the report said.
The director holds French and Polish passports, and Poland’s extradition treaty with the U.S. does not require Warsaw to extradite its own citizens. According to Variety, however, given Poland’s need for U.S. support to counterbalance recent steps by Russia, it may feel obliged to cooperate.
In 2009, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland while attending a film festival, but was able to avoid extradition. Last month he requested his original conviction be thrown out, but a California judge ruled the case could not be dismissed while Polanski remained a fugitive. The director originally served 42 days in a California jail as part of a plea bargain that meant more serious charges, including rape, would be dropped. He fled because he feared the judge hearing his case planned to renege on the deal, The Independent said.