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Filmmaker placed under house arrest in Swiss chalet

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-12-04

Roman Polanski was released on bail on Friday. The 76-year-old director has been placed under house arrest at his Swiss chalet, where he will await a ruling on a US extradition request related to a three-decades-old child sex conviction.

French-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski was released on bail and placed under house arrest in his snowbound chalet near Gstaad, Switzerland, while awaiting a ruling on a US extradition request.

A convoy of limousines escorted the Oscar-winning film director to his upscale ski resort, which was bedecked with Christmas lights.

Ahead of his release on bail, Polanski was transferred on Thursday from a jail in northeastern Switzerland to an undisclosed location to avoid the intense media glare, Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli told reporters.

FRANCE 24 correspondent James Andre reported that the atmosphere in Gstaad ahead of Polanski’s arrival was charged with anticipation: “There are a lot of cameras, a lot of media, a lot of satellite trucks out here. Everybody is waiting for him.”

The 76-year-old director of acclaimed films such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” and “The Pianist”, is wanted by the United States on a three-decades-old child sex conviction. He arrived in the western Alpine ski resort shortly after 1:00 pm (1200 GMT).

A Swiss court granted Polanski bail of 4.5 million Swiss francs (3 million euros, 4.5 million dollars) last week, with the stipulation that he hand over his identity documents and wear an electronic bracelet to stop him from fleeing.

Still, Andre explained that within the confines of the chalet, Polanski “will be free to do whatever he likes….he can make all the phone calls he likes, he will have access to internet, he can receive anybody he wishes to receive, so he’ll probably be able to carry on working on his new film.”

Andre also specified that if Polanksi tries to escape from his chalet, he will lose the three million euros of collateral money that Polanksi has given to the Swiss government.

Polanski, who was arrested when he arrived in Zurich on September 28, has been hunted by justice authorities in California ever since he fled the United States in 1978 after admitting unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The decision by a Swiss court to grant bail prompted a swift reaction from Interpol last week, which warned governments to be vigilant in case the French-Polish director attempts to flee again.

Gstaad, known as a quiet, upscale playground for celebrities, is just a 67- kilometre (42-mile) drive from the closest French border post.

Polanski's French-led team of defence lawyers has contested his extradition in Switzerland, while Swiss authorities said the formal request for extradition lodged by the United States is still being examined.

Meanwhile, Polanski's US legal team is due to ask a California appeals court on December 10 to dismiss the child sex conviction, legal sources said last month.

Lawyers for the victim in the case, Samantha Geir, also filed a court motion in October in Los Angeles, renewing their request that the case against Polanski be dismissed because of the anguish the attention was causing her.
 

Date created : 2009-12-04

  • SWITZERLAND

    Polanski transferred from jail for 'security reasons'

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