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Blocher would have warned Polanski

Former justice minister Christoph Blocher says filmmaker Roman Polanski should have been warned that he faced arrest if he came to Switzerland.

Blocher told an interviewer on the Teleblocher internet site on Friday that it would have been legally permissible to inform Polanski or his lawyer, and that this would have avoided many problems for Switzerland.

However, he did not minimise the seriousness of the case outstanding against Polanski.

Polanski was detained at Zurich airport last week when he arrived to be honoured for his life's work at the Zurich film festival. An international warrant for his arrest for having sex with a 13-year-old girl 30 years ago had been issued by the US justice authorities.

The decision to execute the warrant was taken by the current justice minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who replaced Blocher after a bitter struggle in 2007.

Michael Leupold, head of the Federal Justice Office, speaking later on Swiss public television, rejected Blocher's criticism. He said that warning Polanski would have been illegal.

Meanwhile the French director Jan Kounen has withdrawn his film from the festival in solidarity with Polanski.

On Saturday Polanski's lawyers told the AFP news agency they were hoping for a response from the justice ministry "at the beginning or middle of next week" on their application for their client to be released.

The Polish consul in Bern reported that Polanski – a dual Polish and French citizen – had told him he was being very well treated.

"But that does not mean he is happy about what has happened," he added.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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