Daily Archives: June 1, 2016

Surely the facts are up for grabs

LONDON — The Polish government said on Tuesday that it would revive an effort to extradite the filmmaker Roman Polanski, whom the American authorities have wanted for decades. He pleaded guilty in 1977 to having sex with a 13-year-old girl but fled to Europe the next year, on the eve of his sentencing.
The announcement is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle that, at least in Poland, seemed to have ended.
On Oct. 30, a judge in Krakow, Poland, ruled that turning over Mr. Polanski would be an “obviously unlawful” deprivation of liberty and that the state of California was unlikely to provide humane conditions of confinement for the filmmaker, who is 82. The next month, the Krakow prosecutor’s office said it would abide by the judge’s ruling.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who is also Poland’s chief prosecutor, said he had decided to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, calling the trial judge’s decision a “serious breach” of the extradition agreement between the United States and Poland.
Mr. Ziobro did not cite the judge, Dariusz Mazur, by name, but he said the judge had “assessed the gathered evidence in a biased and selective way.” Mr. Ziobro added that the time limit for prosecuting Mr. Polanski in the United States had not passed.

I have written about Roman Polanski here

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And Samantha Geimer HERE

Why Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro wishes to aide and abet the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in its relentless pursuit Jewish Dwarf auteur at this point in time is rather mysterious. Perhpah it has something to do wit the fact that Polanski has been planning a film about the Dreyfus case and wanted to shoot it in Poland — France (the scene of the crime) being too. . . . “Hot” politically speaking

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Alfred Dreyfus (French: 9 October 1859 – 12 July 1935) was a French artillery officer of Jewish background whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became one of the most tense political dramas in modern European history. Known today as the Dreyfus Affair, the incident eventually ended with Dreyfus’ complete exoneration.
In 1894, the French Army’s counter-intelligence section, led by Lt. Colonel Jean Sandherr, became aware that information regarding new artillery parts was being passed to the Germans by a highly placed spy, most likely to be on the General Staff. Suspicion quickly fell upon Dreyfus who was arrested for treason on 15 October 1894. On 5 January 1895, Dreyfus was summarily convicted in a secret court martial, publicly stripped of his army rank, and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana. Following French military custom of the time Dreyfus was formally degraded by having the rank insignia, buttons and braid cut from his uniform and his sword broken, in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire before silent ranks of soldiers while a large crowd of onlookers shouted abuse from behind railings. Dreyfus cried out: “I swear that I am innocent. I remain worthy of serving in the Army. Long live France! Long live the Army!”

In August 1896, the new chief of French military intelligence, Lt. Colonel Georges Picquart, reported to his superiors that he had found evidence to the effect that the real traitor was a Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. Picquart was silenced by being transferred to the southern desert of Tunisia in November 1896. When reports of an army cover-up and Dreyfus’ possible innocence were leaked to the press, a heated debate ensued about anti-Semitism, and France’s identity as a Catholic nation or a republic founded on equal rights for all citizens. Esterhazy was found not guilty by a secret court martial, before fleeing to England. Following a passionate campaign by Dreyfus’ supporters, including leading artists and intellectuals including Émile Zola,

Zola

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he was given a second trial in 1896 and again declared guilty of treason despite the evidence in favor of his innocence. However, due to public opinion, Dreyfus was offered and accepted a pardon by President Émile Loubet in 1899 and released from prison; this was a compromise that saved face for the military’s mistake. Had Dreyfus refused the pardon, he would return to Devil’s Island, a fate he could no longer emotionally cope with; so officially Dreyfus remained a traitor to France, and pointedly remarked upon his release:

“The government of the Republic has given me back my freedom. It is nothing for me without my honor.”

For two years, until July 1906, he lived in a state of house-arrest with one of his sisters at Carpentras, and later at Cologny.
On 12 July 1906, Dreyfus was officially exonerated by a military commission. The day after his exoneration, he was readmitted into the army with a promotion to the rank of major (“Chef d’Escadron”). A week later, he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour, and subsequently assigned to command an artillery unit at Vincennes. On 15 October 1906, he was placed in command of another artillery unit at Saint-Denis.
In 1937 his son Pierre published his father’s memoirs based on his correspondence between 1899 and 1906. The memoirs were published Souvenirs Et Correspondance and translated into English by Dr Betty Morgan.
Dreyfus was present at the ceremony removing Zola’s ashes to the Panthéon in 1908, when he was wounded in the arm by a gunshot from Louis Gregori, a disgruntled journalist, in an assassination attempt.

The Dreyfus Affair and Emile Zola’s unprecedented full-throated defense — which got him into no end of trouble — are key events in French history. The best account of what it meant to the people of France, high-born and low, can be found in Marcel Proust’s a la recherche du temps perdu

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And now to close things out a song by Marcel’s boyfriend Reynaldo Hahn (recently referenced in a Proust fait diver )

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