Roman Polanski to be moved to house arrest at his Swiss chalet
The film director Roman Polanski will be placed under house arrest at his Alpine chalet as soon as possible, the Swiss justice ministry said today, announcing it would not appeal against a court decision to release him on bail.
The ministry said it was still deciding whether to extradite the 76-year-old to the United States, where authorities in Los Angeles want him sentenced for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
The ministry said, however, that it would not appeal against a Swiss criminal court decision granting Polanski $4.5m (£2.7m) bail on the condition that he wear an electronic bracelet and not leave his Gstaad chalet. Polanski must also surrender his identity documents.
"He must not leave this house," the ministry said in a statement. Should he violate the terms of release, the bail will be forfeited to the Swiss government."
Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said the release would be handled quietly: "We don't want to show him off like an exotic animal," he told The Associated Press.
Polanski was accused of raping the girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a modelling shoot in 1977. He was initially charged with six offences, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.
In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sentence him to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. The evaluator released Polanski after 42 days, but the judge said he was going to send him back to serve out the 90 days.
Polanski fled the US on 1 February 1978, the day he was to be sentenced, and has lived in France since.
The court last month rejected Polanski's first bail offer, with his Gstaad chalet as collateral. Before yesterday's decision, Polanski offered a bank guarantee that would cause him to sacrifice his family's home in Paris if he fled justice again.
"I am very happy and relieved," Mathilde Seigner, Polanski's sister-in-law, told Le Parisien newspaper, adding that the director's imprisonment had had "enormous consequences on a psychological level" for his children. After Polanski's release, "we're going to drink a nice glass of champagne and toast together", she said.
Source: Guardian Online