The film director Roman Polanski has pulled out of this year’s Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, BBC News reports.
His appointment last week to head the jury had outraged women right’s groups, who called for a boycott of next month’s televised ceremony.
The award-winning director has been wanted in the US for decades after admitting to sex with a minor.
The “controversy… deeply saddened Roman Polanski and affected his family,” said his lawyer Herve Temime.
“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 row was “stoked by completely false information”, Temime added.
The French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques, which runs the Cesars, had last week defended their choice, praising the director as an “insatiable aesthete”.
France’s women’s minister Laurence Rossignol had called it a “shocking” decision for the 83-year-old director to preside over the Cesars.
An online petition calling for Polanski to be removed as head of the jury had received more than 42,000 signatures by Friday.
Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977, but then fled the US.
He spends his time between France, Poland, his ancestral homeland, and Switzerland, which have refused to extradite him.
The 42nd Cesars ceremony will take place in Paris on 24 February.
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