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Details emerge about Roman Polanski's life in Swiss prison

November 27, 2009 |  6:23 am

With Roman Polanski set to be released on bail, new details are emerging about his time behind bars.

An inmate who served time in the same Swiss prison said the famed director received special treatment.

In an interview with Zurich's Radio One, Yussi Akram said Polanski was able to regularly call his wife and attorneys and communicated frequently with guards at the prison outside the city. Akram also said Polanski's cell was equipped with a special emergency button he could use to summon guards.

Polanski has been at the prison for two months, ever since Swiss authorities arrested him on a warrant related to a three-decade-old child sex case in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, a close friend of the director's said Polanski is depressed and has lost 30 pounds.

"His fear of the U.S. verges on panic and he has lived with that fear for so long that it's become obsessive," director Janusz Morgenstern told a Polish radio station, according to ABC News. He added Polanski's children have been pulled out of school in part because of taunts from other children.

Polanski is expected to be released in the next few days after a Swiss court granted the director bail.

The court based its decision on Polanski's pledge of $4.5-million bail along with what the court called supporting measures, including electronic monitoring, which would alert the authorities if he tried to leave home or remove a monitoring bracelet.

Polanski is expected to stay at his Alpine chalet.

Legal experts say the bail probably will lengthen the battle over whether Polanski should be extradited to Los Angeles to face sentencing for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old at Jack Nicholson's home. The decision also raises other questions, given that Polanski fled from the United States just before his sentencing in 1978. Swiss justice officials repeatedly have denied his bail requests, saying he is a flight risk.

Swiss officials told Reuters that they don't think Polanski will be released for a couple of days.

-- Shelby Grad