Herzliya court: Roman Polanski must appear in person at trial

Judge says no reason to allow testimony via video-conference for libel suit

January 24, 2018 16:08
1 minute read.
Director Roman Polanski arrives at the Zurich Film Festival.

Director Roman Polanski arrives to present his movie "D'apres une histoire vraie" at the Zurich Film Festival in Zurich, Switzerland October 2, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN)

A judge ruled on Tuesday that director Roman Polanski has to appear in person in court as part of his libel lawsuit against an Israeli blogger.

In December, Polanski filed an NIS 1.5 million suit in the Herzliya Magistrate’s Court against Matan Uziel.

The famed French producer and director asserted that Uziel had lied to news outlets and falsely reported that five women told him Polanski had raped them.

The Oscar-winning Jewish director has lived largely in France since 1978, when he fled the United States after being convicted in a plea deal of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. While Polanski continued to make films for decades after that, in the years since he has faced other allegations of assault and rape.

But Polanski’s lawsuit against Uziel claims that the blogger, who in November set up the website IMetPolanski.

com to collect such stories, fabricated the five accounts he discussed in the media.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Judge Gilad Hess ruled that Polanski will not be allowed to testify via video link-up and must appear in Israel in person.

He also ordered Polanski to pay Uziel NIS 10,000 in costs within 30 days.

While Polanski gave various reasons for his inability to appear, Hess dismissed them one by one. The director claimed that Uziel was demanding Polanski appear in Israel in order to have him arrested and extradited to the United States. But Hess noted that, as Polanski himself pointed out, the US-Israeli extradition treaty would no longer allow for the director’s arrest in Israel, since too much time has passed since the crime.

Polanski also tried to claim that it was unfair of Uziel to slander him internationally and then demand he appear in an Israeli court. But Hess dismissed that argument as well, calling it a “strange claim.”

“It was Polanski who decided to file this suit in Israel,” Hess wrote in his decision.

“Therefore it is only reasonable for Uziel to ask Polanski to come to Israel to testify.”

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