Canadian film director Paul Haggis maintained his innocence today [Wednesday] at a first court appearance in the southern Italian port city of Brindisi where he is answering questions related to allegations of sexual assault.
Haggis has been under house arrest in a hotel outside Brindisi since Sunday following allegations by an unnamed British woman that he subjected her to non-consensual sex over the course of a number of days.
“Paul Haggis explained how things went. He declared himself totally innocent, as he did in the immediate arrest,” the director’s Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia told reporters after the hearing.
Italian media broadcast images of the Oscar-winning filmmaker arriving at the court, where he was greeted by a scrum of reporters, photographers and videographers.
Dressed in a dark tie and suit with a black backpack slung over his shoulder he made his way up the steps. He did not stop to talk to journalists, only uttering a polite “excuse me” as he made his way to security.
Haggis had been in Southern Italy to attend the Allora film festival, a new event in the village of Ostuni outside of Brindisi, bankrolled by Covid-19 recovery funds.
According to local media reports, Haggis first met his accuser at a film festival in Monte Carlo in April and has been in regular contact with her since then, which resulted in the invitation to Ostuni.
The reports said the woman was then discovered in an “obvious confused state” at the local airport on Sunday, where she was helped and then taken to Brindisi’s police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a local hospital for examination.
Investigating judge Vilma Gilli, who led Wednesday’s hearing, will listen to arguments from both the defence lawyers and the prosecutors and will then deliberate on whether Haggis should be detained further. A decision is expected later today.
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