French Philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy Says It’s "Shameful" to Demand Punishment for Polanski

Tuesday Roman Polanski lost his first appeal Tuesday to be released from a Swiss jail. Meanwhile the U.S readies its formal request for the well-known film director's extradition.

Mr. Polanski, 76 years old, the director of such classic films as "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," has been a fugitive from the U.S. since 1978, when he fled the country after pleading guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He has lived in France ever since, and was arrested Sept. 26 when he arrived here for a film festival.

Last week, Mr. Polanski's lawyers asked Swiss authorities to allow him to be held under house arrest at his ski chalet in the tony resort of Gstaad. But the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected his plea on fears that Mr. Polanski might flee the country. The U.S. has until late November to produce an extradition request, The Wall Street Journal reports.

ABC News quoted Federal Office of Justice spokesman Folco Galli as saying, "We rejected Polanski's appeal (against the extradition arrest warrant) in our answer yesterday to the Federal Penal Court,"

Swiss authorities have previously said it was very unlikely Polanski would be released on bail. The justice office had asked the Swiss Penal Court to reject Polanski's appeal to be released, Galli said.

"This recommendation is disappointing, but doesn't surprise us. We will wait and see what the judges, the magistrates in independent courts, decide," Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime said, ABC News reports.

Meanwhile, Polanski apologist Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French philosopher who circulated a petition among his intellecutal friends to free the director, now admits that sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl “is obviously a serious crime” and that creating few masterpieces of modern cinema does not a mitigating circumstance make.

But Lévy points out that Polanski didn’t kill anyone, like, oh, Charles Manson's followers, who eviscerated Polanksi’s wife Sharon Tate a few years before Polanski’s tête-à-tête with a teenager. "Because that’s what we’re really talking about, seeing Polanksi join Charles Manson in the penitentiary." So we take from this argument that ... the families of crime victims should never be punished for their subsequent crimes?

Lévy says it’s "shameful" to demand punishment for Polanski when his victim has forgiven him, and that, far from shielding him from justice, Polanski’s celebrity is the reason the Americans are "tracking him like a terrorist, and extraditing him like a former Nazi," The Star-Ledger reports.

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