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The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
The investigation into this case started more than a decade ago
 real 28k

Friday, 19 January, 2001, 15:35 GMT
Hindujas appear before Indian court
The Hinduja brothers leaving court
The Hinduja brothers deny the charges against them
Three brothers from one of the UK's wealthiest Asian families have appeared before a court in India in connection with a major arms scandal dating back to the 1980s.

They shall join the investigation as and when required by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and will not leave the country without the permission of the court

Judge Ajit Bharihoke
The multi-millionaire Hinduja brothers - Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash - were granted bail on condition that they do not leave the country without permission.

The Hindujas have been accused of criminal conspiracy and bribery in connection with the purchase of field guns by India from the Swedish company, Bofors.

They deny the charges, arising out of a lengthy Indian police investigation, which also implicated a number of prominent politicians including the former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Custody argument

The Hindujas, dressed in Western-style business suits, appeared before a packed courtroom in Delhi.

Bofors gun
The scandal surrounds the purchase of artillery guns
Their legal team argued that they should not be taken into custody as they had appeared before the court voluntarily.

A further hearing has been set for 30 January.

The brothers - two of whom are based in the UK and the other in Switzerland - arrived in India earlier this week after being named in a charge sheet by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The charges followed a battle by the CBI to get access to confidential bank account records held in Switzerland, which the agency finally won last year.

Key corruption case

The Hindujas control a global business empire, which has made them multi-millionaires.

They are also said to be close friends with the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife and supported London's Millennium Dome project with generous sponsorship.

The Bofors corruption case is regarded as one of the most important India has ever seen, with a number of other international businessmen and Indian politicians implicated.

The Indian authorities are currently seeking the extradition from Malaysia of an Italian businessman, Ottavio Quattrocchi.

He has also denied any wrongdoing.

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See also:

12 Dec 00 | South Asia
Court summons for Hindujas
09 Oct 00 | South Asia
Bofors charges against Hindujas
16 Dec 99 | South Asia
India handed arms scam papers
22 Oct 99 | South Asia
Rajiv Gandhi in arms scam charges
18 Jan 01 | Business
Tracking the Hindujas
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