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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 01:24 GMT
Hindujas questioned by detectives
The Hinduja brothers leaving the court on Friday
The brothers could be questioned for several days
The authorities in India have questioned the three Hinduja brothers for the second day running in connection with the Bofors arms scandal.

The three, from one of the UK's wealthiest Asian families, faced their first session of questioning in Delhi by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday.

Srichand Hinduja
Srichand Hinduja is alleged to have 'paid' for a British passport
Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja have been accused of criminal conspiracy and bribery in connection with the purchase of field guns by India from the Swedish company, Bofors.

On Friday, a court granted the multi-millionaire brothers bail on condition that they did not leave the country without permission.

The three 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.

'Passport money'

In a separate development, Srichand Hinduja denied reports that he donated about $1.5m (1m) in order to obtain a British passport.

Peter Mandelson
Mandelson denies having intervened in favour of Mr Hinduja
The Observer newspaper alleged that a British minister, Peter Mandelson, helped Mr Hinduja obtain citizenship after the businessman agreed to help finance London's Millennium Dome.

The newspaper said the minister - at the time in charge of the Dome - had stepped in after Mr Hinduja's first application failed. He received a passport six months after his second application.

Mr Mandelson has denied the charges, saying the application had not been supported or endorsed by him.

Permission to travel

The brothers were interrogated by Indian detectives over the weekend about their involvement in the Bofors case.

Bofors gun
The scandal surrounds the purchase of artillery guns
Judge Ajit Barihoke ruled on Saturday that the interrogation could continue for a few days if necessary.

The brothers have applied for permission to go abroad to attend board meetings of various companies, but the CBI has said they should surrender their passports and remain in India.

One of the defence lawyers, Rajinder Singh, said the fact that the brothers had appeared in court voluntarily was an assurance that they would not avoid trial proceedings.

Judge Barihoke has said he will give a ruling on Monday.

Key case

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 CBI.

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

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.

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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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