Swiss Justice Ministry will not oppose bail

GENEVA — Roman Polanski will be placed under house arrest at his Alpine chalet as soon as possible, the Swiss Justice Ministry said Thursday, announcing it would not appeal a court’s decision to release the 76-year-old director on bail.

The ministry said it was still deciding whether to extradite Polanski 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 a Swiss Criminal Court decision granting Polanski $4.5 million 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.

The bail decision was a major win for the director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist” after a series of legal setbacks following his Sept. 26 arrest on a U.S. warrant as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

Polanski was accused of raping the 13-year-old girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a modeling shoot in 1977. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting 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 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 then fled the United States on Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was to be sentenced, and has lived in France since. He claims the U.S. judge and prosecutors acted improperly in his case, and his attorneys will argue before a California appeals court next month that the charges should be dismissed regardless of whether Polanski is extradited.

The Swiss will decide on extraditing Polanski in the next “couple of weeks,” Galli said. Extradition would also be subject to appeals.

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