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Swiss say Roman Polanski house arrest to begin Friday

 A general view shows the snow covered chalet
A general view shows the snow covered chalet 'Milky Way', which according to Swiss newspapers, is where Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski is staying, in the Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad, December 1, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
— image credit: Reuters

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities will release film director Roman Polanski into house arrest at his luxury Alpine chalet on Friday, the government said on Wednesday.

"Polanski will be transferred to Gstaad on Friday and should be in his chalet after 1 o'clock in the afternoon," Justice Department spokesman Folco Galli said.

Polanski is fighting extradition to face U.S. sentencing over a 1977 case of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to one count of sex with a minor but fled before the case was concluded, fearing a heavy sentence.

The 76-year-old Oscar-winning director, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was arrested at the request of the United States when he flew into Switzerland on September 26 to receive a lifetime achievement prize at a film festival.

Galli declined to give any further details on the process of releasing Polanski on bail or the extradition procedure.

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. He faces up to two years in a U.S. prison if he is extradited.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl but fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing because he believed a judge might overrule his plea and put him in jail for 50 years.

Polanski's films include "The Pianist" in 2002 for which he won an Academy Award, "Rosemary's Baby," "Repulsion" and "Knife in the Water."

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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