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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 11:27 GMT
Hindujas barred from leaving India
Hindujas leaving court
The Hindujas are expected to appeal to a higher court
An Indian court has denied permission to the British-based businessmen, the Hinduja brothers, to leave the country.

Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja are in India for questioning in an arms scandal and had asked to be allowed to leave.


The court is not satisfied whether they will come back or not

Judge Ajit Bharihoke
But prosecutors argued they had pursued the billionaire brothers for three years and felt that if they were allowed to go they may not return.

Indian investigators allege they accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a Swedish company, Bofors, to facilitate a $1.3bn weapons deal.

Dismissing the Hindujas' appeal the judge, Ajit Bharihoke, said he was refusing them permission to go abroad.

"The court is not satisfied whether they will come back or not," the judge said.

The brothers were not present in court to hear the judge's ruling.

However, one of their lawyers said they were "very disappointed" by the decision as they had co-operated with the investigation and had not resorted to the right to silence.

Corruption charges

The Hindujas arrived in India two weeks ago after receiving assurances they would not be arrested on arrival.

Keith Vaz
British Minister Keith Vaz is feeling the Hinduja heat
They faced questioning over their alleged role in the Bofors arms deal in 1986 - but a judge then ordered that they remain in India.

Accepting commissions in defence deals is a crime in India and those convicted could face a prison term of up to seven years.

The Hindujas have denied the allegations and have said money received from Bofors in their Swiss bank accounts had nothing to do with the arms purchase.

Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja are British citizens while their brother, Prakash, is a Swiss national.

The issue of the Hindujas' nationality led to a political row in the UK, which resulted in the resignation of the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Emma Simpson in Delhi
"The Hindujas are effectively grounded"
BBC News Online's special report on the passport for favours affair

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | South Asia
25 Jan 01 | South Asia
01 Feb 01 | UK Politics
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