Entertainment & Arts

US criticised for seeking Polanski arrest in Poland

Roman Polanski Image copyright EPA
Image caption Roman Polanski was attending the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews

An advisor to the Polish President has accused the US of "absolute ignorance" in seeking to arrest Roman Polanski at the opening of a Jewish history museum.

Polanski has been wanted by US police since 1977 after fleeing the country before he could be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

US authorities contacted Polish officials as Polanski attended the museum opening in Warsaw last week.

The director was questioned by prosecutors but was not arrested.

Tomasz Nalecz, adviser to President Bronislaw Komorowski, said he felt it was inappropriate to seek the arrest of a "child of the Holocaust" in Poland during the opening of the museum, which highlights Poland's role as a safe haven for Jews for centuries before the Holocaust.

"From the point of view of Polish history," it "showed absolute ignorance", he said.

The US authorities have not yet responded to the comments.

Polish born Polanski lost his mother at Auschwitz. He survived the war by assuming a non-Jewish identity.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker who made his first films in Poland, now lives in France.

But he has been to Poland several times in recent years.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Polanski opened a stage version of his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers in Paris earlier this month

In 2010, the Polish prosecutor general said Polanski could not be extradited because under Polish law too much time had passed since the offences.

When asked about the latest attempts to arrest him in Poland, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said: "I think that Polish citizens, especially in cases of crimes whose statute of limitations have run out, should not be subject to extradition."

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said he believed "someone on the American side really wants to bring Roman Polanski to the United States," but said "hunting" the director was not appropriate and Poland should "consider the matter closed".

Police in Los Angeles charged the director with sex offences including rape in 1977 before he accepted a plea deal, but he fled the country on the eve of his sentencing.

He has never returned to the US and did not collect his best director Oscar for The Pianist at the 2003 Academy Awards.

The director was held in Switzerland in 2009 after travelling to Zurich to pick up a prize at a film festival.

However, the extradition bid failed and he was eventually allowed to return to France.

Polanski is currently directing a stage show in Paris based on his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, but has said he wants to shoot a film on location in Poland on the condition he will not face extradition.

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