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Hindujas 'Appalled' by Swiss Court Jail Sentence in Human Trafficking Case

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In a statement issued on behalf of the Hinduja family, Swiss lawyers emphasized that their clients had been acquitted of all human trafficking charges. Britain's wealthiest family, the Hindujas, expressed their dismay at a Swiss court's decision to impose jail terms on some family members. They have filed an appeal in a higher court, challenging the verdict that found them guilty of exploiting vulnerable domestic workers from India at their Geneva villa.

The statement, released on Friday by Swiss lawyers Yael Hayat, Robert Assael, and Roman Jordan, clarified that Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, both in their 70s, along with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, had been acquitted of all human trafficking charges. The lawyers also refuted media reports suggesting that any family members faced immediate detention, despite court reports from Geneva indicating that the four were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to four-and-a-half years.

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"Our clients have been acquitted of all human trafficking charges. We are appalled and disappointed by the rest of the decision made in this court of first instance, and we have, of course, filed an appeal to the higher court, thereby making this part of the judgment not effective," the statement read. "Under Swiss law, the presumption of innocence is paramount until a final judgment by the highest adjudicating authority is enforced. Contrary to some media reports, there is no effective detention for any members of the family."

The lawyers further noted that the plaintiffs in the case had withdrawn their complaints, declaring to the court that they never intended to be involved in such proceedings. "The family has full faith in the judicial process and remains confident that the truth will prevail," the statement concluded.

The statement followed a hearing in Geneva after prosecutors initiated a case alleging illegal activities, including exploitation, human trafficking, and violations of Switzerland's labor laws. The family members were accused of confiscating the workers' passports, preventing them from leaving the villa, and forcing them to work long hours for minimal pay. Some workers, who allegedly spoke only Hindi, were paid in rupees in Indian banks, which they could not access.

Prosecutors during the trial claimed that the family spent more on their dog than on their servants. The family's legal team, however, argued that the staff were treated with respect and provided with accommodation.

According to 'The Sunday Times Rich List' released last month, the UK-based Hinduja family was named the country's richest, with an estimated wealth of around GBP 37.196 billion. Their fortune increased over the past year, partly due to the opening of the new luxury OWO Raffles Hotel in the heart of London.

The Hinduja family's business conglomerate, led by chairman G.P. Hinduja, operates in 48 countries across various sectors, including automotive, oil and specialty chemicals, banking and finance, IT, cybersecurity, healthcare, trading, infrastructure project development, media and entertainment, power, and real estate.

June 22, 2024 3:23 p.m. 373

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