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Swiss may have initiated Polanski's arrest

A new report says Swiss authorities set in motion the arrest of fugitive film director Roman Polanski last month in Zurich.

Documents obtained by the Associated Press news agency show that the Swiss justice authorities sent an urgent fax on September 22 to their United States counterparts asking if they would be submitting a request for Polanski's arrest.

The Franco-Polish director was detained four days later at Zurich airport. The arrest was made on the basis of a US warrant for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He admitted the charge but fled to France before he could be sentenced.

According to AP, a series of emails obtained under a public records request show that the fax was sent to the US Office of International Affairs stating Polanski was expected in Zurich.

The director was to be feted at a film festival in Zurich.

A spokesman for the Swiss justice ministry, Folco Galli, defended the Swiss move in a statement to AP.

Galli said Swiss officials asked their American counterparts if their arrest warrant was still valid. After receiving US confirmation, Switzerland was obliged by treaty to apprehend the 76-year-old director.

The spokesman also said that this was the first time officials had precise details on the director's arrival in Switzerland and an official American request to arrest him. This was in response to questions why Switzerland decided to go after Polanski at that time, even though he was a frequent visitor to the country, where he owns a chalet in the Alps.

On Tuesday the Swiss Federal Criminal Court rejected his appeal to be released from prison, citing the "high" risk that the director would try to flee again.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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