• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Hindujas file appeal against Swiss court’s order

A spokesperson for Kamal and Prakash Hinduja, their son Ajay, and his wife Namrata – all Swiss nationals – clarified that none of them have faced “imprisonment, conviction, sentence or detention.”

Khokhar was found guilty of four charges of sexual assault against three women but acquitted of charges involving three others. (Representational image: iStock)

By: Vivek Mishra

THE HINDUJA family, Britain’s wealthiest, expressed their dismay over a Swiss court’s ruling that sentenced some members to jail terms. They have filed an appeal in a higher court against the verdict that found them guilty of exploiting vulnerable domestic workers from India at their villa in Geneva.

A spokesperson for Kamal and Prakash Hinduja, their son Ajay, and his wife Namrata – all Swiss nationals – clarified on Saturday that none of them have faced “imprisonment, conviction, sentence or detention.”

“Per Swiss law procedures, the lower court’s judgement is rendered ineffective and inoperative as the presumption of innocence is paramount until and unless a final judgment by the highest adjudicating authority is enforced,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added, “It may be noted that the case has no complainants left anymore, and they had declared in the court that they were led into signing statements that they didn’t even understand. They had neither intended to nor initiated such proceedings. All of them further testified that the four Hinduja family members treated them with ‘respect, dignity and like family.'”

On Friday, a statement from the family’s Swiss lawyers emphasised that their clients had been acquitted of all human trafficking charges. They also refuted media reports about any family members facing detention, despite court reports from Geneva stating the four were sentenced to four to four-and-a-half years in prison.

“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,” read the statement from lawyers Yael Hayat, Robert Assael, and Roman Jordan.

“Under Swiss law, the presumption of innocence is paramount till a final judgement by the highest adjudicating authority is enforced. Contrary to some media reports, there is no effective detention for any members of the family,” they stated.

The lawyers also noted, “It should also be recalled that the plaintiffs in this case had withdrawn their respective complaints after declaring to the court that they had never intended to be involved in such proceedings.”

The family has expressed confidence in the judicial process and believes the truth will prevail.

The statements came after a hearing in Geneva, where prosecutors opened the case for alleged illegal activities, including exploitation, human trafficking, and violation of Switzerland’s labour laws.

The family members were accused of seizing workers’ passports, preventing them from leaving the villa, and forcing them to work long hours for minimal pay. Some workers allegedly only spoke Hindi and were paid in rupees in Indian banks they could not access.

During the trial, prosecutors claimed the family spent more on their dog than on their servants. The family’s legal team countered these allegations, stating that the staff were treated respectfully and provided with accommodation.

The Hinduja family’s group of companies operates in 48 countries and spans multiple sectors including automotive, oil and speciality chemicals, banking and finance, IT, cyber security, healthcare, trading, infrastructure project development, media and entertainment, power, and real estate.

(With inputs from PTI)

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