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Roman Polanski pulls out from 'French Oscars' amid protests

Roman Polanski pulls out from 'French Oscars' amid protestsRoman Polanski will not preside over the "French Oscars", the Cesars, next month, his lawyer said Tuesday after women threatened to protest about the director's rape of a 13-year-old girl almost four decades ago.

The director was earlier chosen to head the ceremony. However, feminist groups called for a boycott of the February 24 awards in Paris against the decision.

The "controversy... deeply saddened Roman Polanski and affected his family," his lawyer Herve Temime said in a statement.

"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," he said.

The furore was "stoked by completely false information," Temime said.

The decision by the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques to honour him at the Cesars infuriated women's groups.

The leading group Osez le feminisme (Dare feminism) called the decision "shameful", and urged people to protest outside.

A petition calling for him to be removed as president had garnered over 42,000 signatures by Friday.

France's minister for women's rights, Laurence Rossignol, joined the debate, saying she found it "surprising and shocking that a rape case counts for so little in the life of a man."

The choice of Polanski showed "an indifference with regard to the acts of which he is accused" and "a sort of banalisation of rape," she said.

In contrast, the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques praised Polanski as an "insatiable aesthete" and former French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti defended him as a "great director... who should be allowed to preside over the ceremony."
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