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The decision drew cheers and jeers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The great Franco-Polish director can now freely rediscover his loved ones and devote himself fully to the pursuit of his artistic activities,” said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

His Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski expressed satisfaction with the Swiss decision, saying that “a solution was found that respects the complex legal considerations and personal circumstances of the case of Mr. Polanski.”

At Polanski’s multi-million dollar Alpine chalet the shutters were open but there was no sign of movement inside hours after the Swiss decision was announced.

A woman who answered the intercom and identified herself only as “Mr. Polanski’s assistant” said the director had left with his wife and two young children, Morgane and Elvis. She declined to say where Polanski had gone or whether he would return.

Glasses stood half-empty glasses on the porch, where neighbors say Polanski was having a meal around noon.

Asked whether Polanski had left the home after being freed Monday from the electronic tags that monitored his movements during his house arrest on $4.5 million bail, a police spokeswoman, Ursula Stauffer, said: “Mr. Polanski is a free man. It’s not the job of the police to keep track of his movements.”

Widmer-Schlumpf, the Swiss justice minister, said the decision was not meant to excuse Polanski’s crime, adding the issue was “not about deciding whether he is guilty or not guilty.”

The government said extradition had to be rejected “considering the persisting doubts concerning the presentation of the facts of the case.”

In justifying the decision, Switzerland also invoked what it called the “public order” _ a lofty notion meaning that governments should ensure their citizens are safe from arbitrary abuse of the law.

The Justice Ministry cited the fact that U.S. authorities hadn’t pursued Polanski in Switzerland previously, even though he’s often visited the country and bought a house here in 2006. It also stressed that the victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago publicly identified herself, has joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal.

The acclaimed director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist” was accused of plying his victim with champagne and part of a Quaalude during a 1977 modeling shoot and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy, but pleaded guilty to one count 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. However, he was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again.

The judge responded by saying he was going to send Polanski back to jail for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to agree to a “voluntary deportation.” Polanski then fled the country on the eve of his Feb. 1, 1978, sentencing.

The office of Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley did not issue any statement about the Swiss decision and he did not return a message seeking comment.

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