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Polanski Not Worried About Thai Extradition Law

Polanski Not Worried About Extradition From Thailand


by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Roman Polanski, who recently dodged possible extradition from England to America where he was convicted for illicit sex with a 13-year-old California girl, said he has "no problems" being arrested as a fugitive while traveling to other countries.

Asked at a news conference on Saturday (Oct. 15) why he feared extradition from England but not from Thailand, Polanski replied: "I came here to talk about the motion pictures I presented, and I've been traveling around the world for 20 years."

Polanski was warmly welcomed by Thai officials on Friday (Oct. 14) at the gala opening of the World Film Festival of Bangkok.

"I've been traveling around the world a lot, and working around the world a lot, and I have no problems with it," Polanski said.

"We're not going to extradite him," a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said on Friday (Oct. 14), unable to elaborate.

Describing his newest film, titled Oliver Twist, Polanski said, "I have directed children before, in some parts. This was the first time when they have the lead in the picture, but it was extremely easy."

The film's plot, about exploited orphans, was easily understood by children, he said.

"The most painful thing for a child is the separation from the parents. I know that the harshness of life, lack of food, etcetera, is all secondary. I feel kids can identify with this one."

The filmmaker became a fugitive in 1978 when he fled the United States after being convicted for illegal sex with a 13-year-old San Fernando Valley girl when Polanski was 43.

A grand jury charged Polanski with drugging a minor, committing a lewd act upon a person less than 14, rape of a minor, rape by use of a drug, oral copulation and sodomy -- all felony charges.

He pled guilty to a lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and the other charges were dropped, but Polanski fled before sentencing.

In 2004, Polanksi's lawyer Richard Spearman defended the filmmaker's inability to travel to England to give evidence in a libel case against Vanity Fair magazine, and said if "he comes to this country, exposing himself to extradition," Polanski risked arrest.

A British Court of Appeal earlier upheld a ruling that Polanski would have to appear in person, rather than in a video link from his Paris home.

"The court should not be seen to assist a claimant who is a fugitive from justice, to evade sentence for a crime of which he has been convicted," said Lord Justice Jonathan Parker, one of the Court of Appeal's three judges.

"He could be handed over to the U.S. if he comes to Britain, because there is an extradition agreement between the two countries," the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) reported at the time.

Polanski later won his right to testify by video link, and won his libel case.

Polanski's 13-year-old rape victim grew up to be a real estate assistant in Hawaii, married, and is now known as Samantha Geimer.

Polanski "got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions, and I knew I was not where I should be," she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2003, describing how Polanski lured her to Jack Nicholson's home, fed her champagne and Quaaludes, and "raped" her.

"I said 'no' several times, and then, well, gave up on that."

Academy Award-winning Polanski, 72, directed The Pianist, Chinatown, and other classics. He was born in Paris, raised in Poland, and holds dual Polish and French nationality.

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Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 27 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is http://www.geocities.com/asia_correspondent/


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