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Film-maker Polanski arrested in Switzerland

 File photo of film director Roman Polanski presenting his musical
File photo of film director Roman Polanski presenting his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Oberhausen September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/Files
— image credit: Reuters

By Jason Rhodes

ZURICH (Reuters) - Film-maker Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on a 31-year-old U.S. arrest warrant, the Zurich Film Festival said in a statement on Sunday.

Polanski's arrest on Saturday evening was in connection with an arrest warrant issued by U.S. authorities in 1978 for having unlawful sex with an underage girl, the statement said.

The film-maker had been due to receive the prize for his life's work at the Film Festival on Sunday evening, kick-starting a retrospective of his film career.

"Roman Polanski, one of the greatest film directors of our time, would have received an award for his life's achievement at the Zurich Film Festival," the statement said.

"However, he was detained by the police upon his entry at Zurich Airport. His detention is linked to the demand by U.S.-authorities to a warrant for his arrest in 1978."

"The festival directors have received this news with great consternation and shock," the festival said, adding that the tribute to Polanski would go ahead so that festival-goers could express their solidarity and admiration for the film-maker.

He was arrested in the late 1970s and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to a 13-year-old girl and having unlawful sex with her at a photo session at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home.

Polanski, who maintained the girl was sexually experienced and had consented, spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests but fled the country before being sentenced. His U.S. visa has since been withdrawn.

Polanski's agent in Los Angeles was not immediately available for comment.

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