Free Roman Polanski: European Artists Demand Director's Release

(AP Photo/Keystone, Ennio Leanza)
Photo: A man holds a "Free Polanski" sticker as he waits at the film festival in Zurich, Switzerland, Sunday Sept. 27, 2009.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) According to European filmmakers, an admitted child-rapist should not be prosecuted as long as he is very talented and the crime took place several decades ago.

Photos: Roman Polanski

At least that's what several members of the European film community have said in interviews regarding their signing of a petition to stop the extradition of Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, who allegedly had sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer after giving her alcohol and part of a Quaalude pill in 1977.

"Everyone is furious about this thing and this petition will be signed by thousands of people," Costa Gavras, the director of France's foremost film institute the Cinematheque, told French radio station Europe 1, according to Reuters.

"A man of this quality can't just be arrested 30 years after an old rehashed story. He must absolutely be set free," he added.

So if he wasn't so talented, it would be okay to extradite Polanski to the United States? That appears to be the crux of most of Polanski's supporters' arguments.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also denounced Polanski's arrest. He said, "It's a bit sinister, this business, to be quite frank. … A man of such talent, recognized throughout the world ... All this is not nice."

Others in the European film community are outraged that Swiss police arrested Polanski at a film festival. Wearing red badges reading "Free Polanski," the Zurich Film Festival jury accused Switzerland of "philistine collusion."

Photo: Roman Polanski

"We hope today this latest order will be dropped. It is based on a three decade old case that is all but dead but for minor technicalities. We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork," jury president, Oscar-winning actress Debra Winger, told Reuters.

"It seems inadmissible ... that an international cultural evening, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by police to apprehend him," says the petition circulating in France and signed by artists including Pedro Almodovar, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Stephen Frears and Monica Bellucci.

Oscar-winning director Andrzej Wajda and other Polish filmmakers also appealed for Polanski's immediate release.

Polanski has already "atoned for the sins of his young years," Jacek Bromski, head of the Polish Filmmakers Association, told The AP. "He has paid for it by not being able to enter the U.S. and in his professional life he has paid for it by not being able to make films in Hollywood."

Photos: Roman Polanski

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