Roman Polanski released to house arrest in Swiss chalet

Fri Dec 4, 2009 12:19pm EST
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By Catherine Bosley

GSTAAD, Switzerland (Reuters) - Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski was released on bail into house arrest at his Swiss chalet on Friday while he fights extradition to the U.S. over a 1977 charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

After more than two months in a Swiss jail, a Reuters journalist saw Polanski in one of two cars which swept past some 200 reporters and into the garage of the film director's luxury home in the upmarket ski resort of Gstaad.

"Roman Polanski was today released from custody pending extradition and transferred to Gstaad, where he is under house arrest at his chalet," the Swiss government said in a statement.

"Polanski has undertaken not to leave his house and property at any time," it said. A police cordon kept media away from the snow-covered three-storey house.

Polanski was released from prison after posting $4.5 million bail, agreeing to wear an electronic monitoring tag and surrendering his identity and travel documents.

The small Alpine town has been popular with celebrities for decades and was favored by actress Audrey Hepburn, jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald and wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The Swiss Justice Department is expected to decide on Polanski's possible extradition within weeks but he could appeal, potentially dragging out the dispute for months.

"It must be special treatment -- if he were a normal man they would keep him in jail," said local Gstaad resident Anne-Marie Fankhauser.   Continued...

<p>A private security guard secures access to Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski's chalet 'Milky Way' in the Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad December 4, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>