Roman Polanski is expected to trade the confines of a Swiss jail this week for house arrest in a luxury chalet with a view of the Alps, where he will await a Swiss decision whether to extradite him to the United States.
His three-story stucco and wood home on the edge of Gstaad has its own garden. He’ll be allowed to host parties. A local official has said he may move to protect the film director from the press.
The biggest drawback for Polanski will be that he will be unable to leave the 1,800-square-meter (19,000-square-foot) property without losing $4.5 million in bail.
“He will have no prison regime,” said Justice Ministry spokesman Falco Galli. “He is completely free to determine his daily schedule. It’s also up to him to get in food and other supplies.”
Swiss officials say they still think there is a high risk Polanski will try to flee, even though he will be wearing an electronic monitoring device that will detect any attempt to leave the property.
The arrival of the bail money in Switzerland appeared to be the main remaining obstacle to the transfer from prison, which could happen as soon as Monday, according to Galli.
No special police protection will be provided, either to make sure Polanski remains or to keep spectators and others away, Galli said. He said Polanski could call the local police or a security firm if he feels threatened.
Aldo Kropf, president of the Saanen-Gstaad community, told newspapers he didn’t rule out finding a way to remove reporters if neighbors complain. Kropf was quoted by the weekly Sonntags Zeitung as saying the local government might stop the public from using the street leading to the Polanski house.
A security firm visited the chalet Saturday and made last-minute preparations for the 76-year-old film director’s arrival. Swiss authorities have said he could be there several weeks before a decision is made on the extradition.
Galli said Polanski will have to pay the 2,000 Swiss franc ($2,000) installation fee and the 200 franc monthly maintenance cost.
“Should Polanski leave his house or remove the monitoring band, an alarm will be set off,” he said. The Swiss government will confiscate the bail if he leaves the property.
Authorities require that the bracelet be working before Polanski is moved to the chalet. Until then, Polanski remains in a jail outside Zurich, Galli said. Officials declined to say how they would transfer Polanski.
Don Beyer, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, was quoted by the weekly Sonntags Blick as saying that he advised Polanski to go to the United States on his own to serve whatever sentence he faces.
“Then he can get everything behind him in the Los Angeles court,” said Beyer.
Galli said Polanski will be able to go outside to check the mail or entertain guests in the garden and will be able to telephone and send e-mails, work on his films and have parties. Phone conversations will not be monitored.
The director has been in Swiss custody since being arrested Sept. 26 on a U.S. warrant as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.
He is wanted in the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl. Authorities in Los Angeles want him sentenced after 31 years as a fugitive.
Polanski was initially accused of raping the girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation and sodomy, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.
In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sent 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 U.S. on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was to be formally sentenced. He has lived since then in France, which does not extradite its citizens.
Polanski claims the U.S. judge and prosecutors acted improperly, and his attorneys will argue before a California appeals court in December that the charges should be dismissed.
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