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Swiss deny Polanski extradition

BERNE, Switzerland, July 12 (UPI) -- Swiss officials said Monday filmmaker Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the United States to face decades-old child-sex charges.

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Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf of the Federal Department of Justice and Police made the announcement Monday in Berne, Romandie News said.

Neue Zurcher Zeitung AG quoted Widmer-Schlumpf as saying the decision was made because the United States did not give Switzerland adequate access to court records pertaining to the case. Polanski also has been released from house arrest, the report said.

The 76-year-old Oscar winner had been under house arrest at his Swiss chalet since December 2009 while he awaited the decision regarding whether he would be extradited to the United States in the 1977 case in which he was accused of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He was held in a Swiss jail for nearly two months before he posted bail and was placed under house arrest.

The filmmaker, who had been living in France but was in Switzerland to attend a film festival at the time of his arrest last year, has not traveled to the United States since he pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to having unlawful sex with a minor. He fled the United States before he could be formally sentenced.

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Polanski's lawyers have alleged misconduct on the part of the Los Angeles criminal justice system at the time of the plea deal and fought extradition from Switzerland to the United States.


Playwright Kohei Tsuka dead at 62

KAMOGAWA, Japan, July 12 (UPI) -- Playwright Kohei Tsuka has died of lung cancer in Japan, his family said Monday. He was 62.

Tsuka, who had announced in January he had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment, died Saturday at a hospital in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, Kyodo News reported.

Tsuka, a South Korean resident in Japan, was known for his humorous plays that garnered him fame in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Tsuka won the Naoki literary prize in 1982 for the novel version of ''Kamata Koshinkyoku,' and was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2007 for his contributions to the artistic field.


AI condemns exhibit organizer convictions

MOSCOW, July 12 (UPI) -- Amnesty International says it condemns Monday's conviction of the organizers of a Russian art exhibition.

A Moscow court fined Andrei Yerofeev, the exhibition curator, and Yuri Samodurov, then-director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre, where the Forbidden Art 2006 exhibition was staged.

They were sentenced to pay fines of $4,800 and $6,442 respectively.

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Yerofeev and Samodurov are to appeal the verdicts, Amnesty International said.

"These shameful verdicts are yet another blow to freedom of expression in Russia. Such judgments have no place in a state supposedly ruled by law," Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program director, said in a statement.

The prosecution said Samodurov and Yerofeev had arranged the exhibits, some of which used religious symbolism, in such a way that they incited enmity and hatred and also denigrated the dignity of Christian groups, in particular Orthodox Christians.

"None of the works incited enmity or hatred. Freedom of expression cannot be restricted or prohibited simply on the grounds that some people find the views expressed offensive or disagreeable," Duckworth added. "Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeev were convicted solely because they dared to show a number of censored art works that had been refused public display at other exhibitions."

The exhibition featured pieces by some of Russia's most well-known contemporary artists, such as Ilya Kabakov, Alexander Kosolapov, the group Blue Noses, Aleksandr Savko and Mikhail Roginskii.

The exhibits included works that included Mickey Mouse instead of Jesus Christ in paintings portraying scenes from the Bible.


Santana proposes to Blackman onstage

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LOS ANGELES, July 12 (UPI) -- Musician and philanthropist Carlos Santana proposed to drummer Cindy Blackman onstage during a concert in Tinley Park, Ill.

The proposal took place Friday at the Midwest Bank Amphitheatre.

Santana popped the question four songs into the show on the Chicago-area stop on his Universal Tone Tour 2010. The romantic gesture followed Blackman's virtuoso drum solo on the Santana hit "Corazon Espinado." After she accepted, the just-engaged couple kissed and the audience broke into cheers, Santana's representatives said in a news release Monday.

"Cindy and I are blessed to have found each other," Santana said in a statement. "Being in love is a gift from the universe, and the spirit and vibrations that come with it are infinitely powerful. I look forward to expressing that incredible energy through my music, and in helping to tip the balance toward more love in the world with what Cindy and I share."

Santana's engagement to Blackman comes almost two months into the first leg of the Universal Tone Tour 2010, with North American dates featuring Steve Winwood as opener.

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