GSTAAD, Switzerland, Dec. 1, 2009 -- Filmmaker Roman Polanski will have to wait until Friday before being allowed to depart a Zurich prison cell for his sumptuous chalet in the Swiss Alps under house arrest, the Swiss Federal Justice office confirmed today.
The reason for the hold-up is a delay in transferring the $4.5 million bail money needed to secure the terms of his house arrest, according to the Federal Justice Office spokesman, Folco Galli.
"The documentation process has already been complete and the electronic surveillance will only be activated once Mr. Polanski is in his chalet in Gstaad," Galli told ABC News.
Here in the luxury ski resort of Gstaad, where Polanski' chalet is located, the mood has quieted down from the flurry of press that anticipated his arrival yesterday.
The rather quaintly named Milky Way chalet is where the Academy award-winning director will serve out the terms of his house arrest while awaiting possible extradition to the U.S., bringing to an end a 31-year stint as a fugitive, on the run from American authorities for having unlawful sex with a 13 year-old girl in 1977.
Over the weekend, a security van was seen at the chalet installing devices to ensure Polanski does not bolt from his home. He will be required to wear a tagging device so he can be monitored and will sound an alarm to the authorities if he does try to flee..
Once the $4.5 million bail is paid to secure the transfer, the 76-year-old filmmaker will be allowed to conduct his personal affairs as he pleases – providing he doesn't leave the confines of his home
In addition to the bail money, Polanski will have to cough-up an additional $2,000 for the installation of security devices as well as a monthly charge of $200 for the upkeep of his detention.
His present abode, a simple cell in a prison just outside of Zurich, could not be more different from the well-appointed three-story home he has here in the Swiss Alps. Gstaad has long been famed as a place where the international jet-set congregate every year for skiing, schmoozing and lavish parties behind the closed doors of the magnificent chalets that grace the picturesque mountains.
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The 19, 000-square-foot property, which includes a garden, is nestled along a private road with a view of the surrounding countryside and snow-capped mountains. He will have access to e-mail, be able to make private phone calls, work on film projects, check his mail, and even host parties. He will also be able to enjoy the company of his family and friends.
What he won't have is police protection to stop any on-lookers approaching.
"Only if Mr. Polanski feels that he is under threat will there be the extra protection offered," the Swiss Federal Justice office Spokesman, Folco Galli, told ABC News. "Otherwise it is up to him to arrange extra security."
But it's not likely that he will be the focus of attention from the locals. Here in Gstaad, Polanski is very much an admired and respected figure and his arrest at the behest of California authorities drew shock and outrage. The president of the Saanen-Gstaad community, Aldo Kropf, told the local press that he would not rule out adding extra measures to bar members of the press and would get the local government to close the road leading to Polanski's house if there were any complaints.
The director of Saanenland Tourism, Roger Seifritz, also pledged discretion and staunch support for the filmmaker and his family. In a local magazine, he urged people to show "thought and responsibility" when dealing with outsiders or the press.
And it's not just glitzy Gstaad that Polanski draws support from… in a recent interview with a French publication, his sister-in-law, Mathilde Seigner, credited French President Nicolas Sarkozy with helping to arrange the release of the filmmaker from the Swiss prison.
"The president has been very effective," Seigner told Le Parisien newspaper, without going in to any details. Polanski took refuge in France after fleeing the U.S. but President Sarkozy was widely criticized for condemning the arrest in Switzerland this year since many believed it was about time that the director faced-up to his criminal past.
Polanski has long accused the judge and prosecutors back in 1978 of acting improperly in the case. His lawyers will argue for the case to be dismissed before a California appeals court on December 10.