Accepting a lifetime achievement award may have just become the blunder of a lifetime for director Roman Polanski. Or at least one of the blunders of his lifetime.
Upon arriving in Switzland on his way to receive a film award at the Zurich Film Festival, the 76-year-old director was taken into custody by Swiss authorities on a U.S. warrant related to his statutory rape conviction more 30 years ago. According to People online and other reports, Swiss police are holding Polanski for extradition to the U.S.
Swiss authorities say they will not release Polanski, a French citizen, until the extradition process is complete, including a possible appeal by Polanski in Swiss courts. The director of films such as Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby (and a 2003 Oscar winner for The Pianist), Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 before his sentencing was complete for the crime of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in California.
Polanski pled guilty to one of six counts and had served the 42-day sentence that prosecutors had agreed to for the crime, but the director, apparently believing the judge was about to renege on the plea bargain agreement and throw him back in jail, fled the country.
In recent years Polanksi had requested that the old case be dismissed, but the U.S. judge hearing the appeal insisted Polanksi appear in person to make his case. The director declined, reportedly fearing arrest.