Roman Polanski began his house arrest on $4.5 million bail Friday, rolling into the luxury resort of Gstaad in a police convoy to a warm welcome from his wife and children at his Alpine chalet.
Polanski persuaded Swiss authorities to end his two months of incarceration in a Swiss jail pending their decision on whether to extradite him to the U.S. in a 32-year-old sex case.
Polanski’s family had been waiting eagerly at the chalet, peeking out the windows to look for him as Swiss authorities worked out the last-minute details of his transfer. He has two children — Elvis, 9, and Morgane, 16 — with his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.
Just before 1 p.m., two police cars went straight into the garage, which has direct access to the house, then left twenty minutes later. Polanski was unseen behind the vehicles’ tinted windows, but police told The Associated Press that he was inside.
“Roman Polanski was today released from custody pending extradition and transferred to Gstaad, where he is under house arrest at his chalet,” the Swiss Justice Ministry said. “Polanski has undertaken not to leave his house and property at any time.”
The 76-year-old director won’t be allowed to leave the property while Switzerland decides whether to extradite him to the U.S. for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
Swiss officials say Polanski transferred the bail and deposited all identification and travel documents with the Zurich cantonal police. His house in Gstaad was fitted with an electronic monitoring system that will trigger an alarm if Polanski leaves the house or removes the tagging bracelet.
Polanski was wearing the monitor around his ankle Friday, said Folco Galli, spokesman for the Justice Ministry.
An hour later, the Polanskis sent word to reporters that they had no intention of making a statement.
“Mr. Polanski and his wife just asked us to say they are not coming out,” said a security guard, who declined to give his name. “There is no point in waiting, so you can all leave.”
Police in gray-and-blue jackets and private security guarded his property. Red-and-white striped police security tape and a wooden fence marked out an area around the house that was closed to strangers.
Swiss authorities are still weighing the U.S. extradition request as well as arguments by Polanski’s lawyer not to send him to Los Angeles, Galli said. He said the decision was expected “in the next weeks,” but he could not say if it would happen this year.
The Oscar-winning director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist” 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. Authorities in Los Angeles want him returned to be sentenced after 31 years as a fugitive.
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.
The filmmaker 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 that the U.S. judge and prosecutors acted improperly in his case. His attorneys will argue before a California appeals court later this month that the charges should be dismissed.
In Los Angeles, prosecutors and defense lawyers declined to comment on the release.
“We’re not going to be making any comments about Mr. Polanski outside court while his extradition is pending in the Swiss courts,” said Sandi Gibbons of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
A spokeswoman for Polanski’s California legal team also said they would have no comment.