WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish prosecutors plan to question filmmaker Roman Polanski after they received a request for his extradition to the United States over a 1977 child sex crime conviction, the prosecutor-general’s office said on Wednesday.
A lawyer for the director — viewed by many Poles as one of their greatest living cultural figures — said Polish prosecutors already questioned Polanski last year and let him go free, and since then nothing had changed.
Polanski, who was born to Polish parents but lives in France, has been spending time in the southern Polish city of Krakow, where he is planning to shoot a film.
Mateusz Martyniuk, a spokesman for the prosecutor general’s office in Warsaw, said the extradition request, which came from prosecutors in Los Angeles, will be passed on to the prosecutors’ office in Krakow.
“Prosecutors will want to summon Polanski for questioning,” Martyniuk said.
In October last year, prosecutors in Krakow interviewed Polanski in connection with a U.S. warrant over the 1977 conviction. They said there were no grounds to arrest him, and they would await a U.S. extradition request before deciding on any further steps.
“In our view no new circumstances have arisen which could lead to a change in the decision by the prosecutor’s office in October,” one of Polanski’s Polish lawyers, Jerzy Stachowicz, told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
The filmmaker pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer during a photoshoot in Los Angeles, fuelled by champagne and drugs.
Polanski served 42 days in jail as part of a 90-day plea bargain. He fled the United States the following year, believing the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and put him in jail for years.
In 2009, Polanski was arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich on the U.S. warrant and placed under house arrest. He was freed in 2010 after Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him to the United States.
His lawyers have been seeking assurances from the Polish authorities that he can travel freely back and forth to Krakow to work on the film project, about the 19th century Dreyfus affair, without risking another arrest.
Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Wiktor Szary; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Heavens