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Hollywood has few dramas to match the life of Oscar-winning film-maker Roman Polanski, detained in Switzerland on a 31-year arrest warrant for rape.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/09/27/zurich.roman.polanski.arrested/art.polanski.roman.gi.jpg caption="Roman Polanski was detained as he traveled to the Zurich film festival."] Polanski's mother died in a concentration camp. He spent several years homeless in 1940s and 1950s Europe. When he received critical acclaim in the 1960s for his early features, Hollywood beckoned. He married actress Sharon Tate – who was then butchered by the infamous Manson family in 1969. He fled to Europe after he pleaded guilty in 1977 to the rape of a 13-year old girl.
Last week Polanski's past caught up with him within the space of a few days. Susan Atkins, who murdered Tate, died in a California prison from brain cancer. The next day Polanski was detained after being served with an extradition warrant by Swiss authorities.
The film industry has already begun to petition for his Polanski's release, with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Cannes Film Festival boss Thierry Fremaux leading the charge. His cause has also been served by Samantha Geimer, his victim, calling for the case to be thrown out; and French culture minister Frederic Mitterand, who has said that he is "deeply shocked" by the detention.
There is clearly sympathy with Polanski from several quarters. Many, including Polanski himself, allege the judge in the original case, who has since died, reneged on a plea bargain. Has Polanski not suffered enough, his defenders argue, both in his personal life and with his absence from Hollywood?
Amid the pleas and mitigation remain several facts. That Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. That he fled before sentencing. And that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is still interested enough to spend time and money, three decades later, to have him returned to California.
Would the interests of justice be served by Polanski being returned to the United States? Or should he be allowed to go free? Tell us what you think and we will use some of your comments in the show.