Roman Polanski defended by pal

Roman Polanski defended by pal

French actor Alain Delon has defended his friend Roman Polanski over the César Awards controversy.

The 83-year-old film director was set to give the opening speech at the César Awards on February 24 in Paris after being named president of the 2017 awards, the equivalent of the French Oscars, but pulled out after protests.

A women's rights group threatened to boycott the ceremony because of his statutory rape admission nearly 40 years ago, a charge he is still wanted by authorities in the US for and Alain insisted he would not accept the role of president if he was offered it because of his loyalty to his friend.

He told Le Figaro: "If they asked me to preside over the Césars, I wouldn't do it in solidarity with Roman Polanski. Every time he crosses the street, are we going to talk to him about 1970?

"I'm not going. And if I'm putting my foot in it, so be it."

Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime told France 24 in a statement: "The controversy ... deeply saddened Roman Polanski and affected his family. However, in order not to disturb the Cesars ceremonies, which should focus on the cinema and not on the appointment of the (event's) president, Roman Polanski has decided not accept the invitation ... and will not preside over the next Cesars ceremonies."

On 11 March 1977, Polanksi - who is best known for his movies 'The Pianist', 'Chinatown' and 'Rosemary's Baby' - was arrested at Jack Nicholson's home after being accused by 13-year-old model Samantha Gailey or raping her.

He later pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor but managed to strike a plea deal which allowed him to serve 42 days in detention while undergoing psychiatric tests.

He then fled to France in 1978 after he thought a judge was going to drop the deal and hit him with a hefty prison sentence, and he has remained in Europe ever sense.

He has also lived in his native Poland and the American authorities have spent many years trying to extradite him from the European nation.

Last month, Polanski defeated an attempt by the US to extradite him from Poland, and afterwards he said: "I'll finally be able to feel safe in my own country."

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