France - Cannes

Director Polanski defended by his peers


US director Woody Allen and French philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy have come out on  the croisiere in Cannes to staunchly defend fugitive director Roman Polanski, after fresh accusations that he had abused another minor.


"It's something that happened many years ago...he has suffered. He has paid his due," Allen told French radio station RTL. "He's an artist, he's a nice person, he did something wrong and he paid for it...They [his critics] would be happy if they could execute him in a firing squad," he added.

On Friday, Charlotte Lewis, 42, a British actress who had worked on Polanski's Pirates movie in 1986, came forward and said that Polanski had abused her right after her 16th birthday.

"Mr. Polanski knew that I was only 16 years old when he met me and forced himself upon me in his apartment in Paris. He took advantage of me," Lewis said at a press conference.

Polanski is currently holed up in a Swiss chalet fighting extradiction to the United States to face sentencing on another case from 1977, which involved unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old after he gave her champagne and drugs.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand has supported Polanski and does not believe he should be extradicted. "People know what I think and I, as a minister, I'm not going to add to things inasmuch as all that is already fairly complicated and painful," he said.  He called Lewis' accusations "pseudo-allegations."

Lewis was criticised by Polanski's lawyers as they found it "disturbing" that she worked with the director on the Pirates movie, three years after the alleged abuse occurred.

Meanwhile, Michael Douglas, a Hollywood star currently in Cannes promoting Oliver Stone's Wall Street: money never sleeps movie, said he would not sign a petition against Polanski's extradiction to California.

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