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Swiss defend Polanski tipoff to US

world Updated: Oct 24, 2009 14:13 IST
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The Swiss government on Saturday said it acted correctly when it tipped off the United States last month and set in motion the arrest of Roman Polanski in his decades-old child sex case.

Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said e-mails obtained in Los Angeles by The Associated Press show regular police procedure when a wanted individual is expected in Switzerland.

The documents obtained under a US public records request show the Swiss ministry sent an urgent fax to the US Office of International Affairs on September 22 stating Polanski was traveling to Zurich. The director was to be feted at a film festival, and Swiss officials wanted to know if the US would be submitting a request for his arrest as he was the subject of an international law enforcement "Red Notice".

"An arrest is a big operation and we needed to know if the warrant was still valid," Galli told the AP. "The Americans immediately confirmed that was the case."

As a result, Switzerland was required by treaty to apprehend Polanski, he said.

Galli also addressed the nagging question in Switzerland and elsewhere of why authorities decided to go after Polanski now, even though the 76-year-old filmmaker has been a frequent visitor here, where he owns an Alpine chalet. Unlike his previous visits, Polanski's appearance was widely advertised and that told authorities when and where he would arrive.