Swiss ready Polanski's chalet for house arrest

AP News
Posted: Nov 28, 2009 3:16 PM

Security experts on Saturday started preparing Roman Polanski's Alpine chalet for the movie director's house arrest while Swiss authorities consider whether to extradite him to the United States.

A Hummer bearing the sign in French "DR Securite Services" was parked outside the empty three-story building Saturday morning, while three men and a woman took photographs of the property and spent about an hour inside.

They declined to say what they were doing, but the company handles a range of services from video surveillance to alarm installations and armored doors.

One of the key court-imposed conditions of Polanski's house arrest is that he be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet that would detect if he tries to leave the chalet, which would cost him the $4.5 million bail he is required to post.

Authorities require that the bracelet be working before Polanski is moved to the chalet, probably Monday. Until then, Polanski would remain in a jail outside Zurich, Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said. Officials declined to say how they would transfer Polanski.

An AP photographer was ordered to leave the area near the chalet Saturday. "You are on private property," a man from the security group said.

Two local government workers were checking that the fire hydrant was working in the garden of the home, which is called "Milky Way" and has a stunning view of the surrounding Alps.

The 76-year-old director has been in Swiss custody for two months after being arrested Sept. 26 on a U.S. warrant as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

The Swiss Justice Ministry is still deciding whether to extradite him to 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 accused of raping the 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 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 then 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 in his case, and his attorneys will argue before a California appeals court in December that the charges should be dismissed.


Associated Press Writer Alexander G. Higgins in Geneva contributed to this report.