India MP Kanimozhi granted bail in telecoms scandal

MP Kanimozhi leaves for court from her home in Delhi on 20 May 2011 Ms Kanimozhi is an MP from the DMK party, a key federal government ally

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Indian MP Kanimozhi, arrested in May in connection with the country's biggest corruption scandal, has been granted bail by a court in the capital Delhi.

She denies conspiracy and accepting bribes in the alleged mis-selling of telecoms licences, which auditors say cost the country about $40bn (£24.5bn).

Her chances of release had brightened after the Supreme Court freed five company executives on bail last week.

Former telecoms minister A Raja is among 14 people who have been charged.

They all deny any wrongdoing.

Maximum of life

On Monday, the Delhi high court also granted bail to four other people - Asif Balwa, Sharad Kumar, Karim Morani and Rajiv Agarwal.

Prosecutors say Ms Kanimozhi took a bribe of $47.6m (£29.3m) through Kalaignar TV - a channel run by the DMK party in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Last month, the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged her on a number of counts, including criminal conspiracy, forgery, accepting bribes and misuse of office.

The trial court had earlier refused her bail saying the "crime committed was a deliberate offence, an economic offence and very serious in nature".

Sharad Kumar, one of those given bail on Monday, is the managing director of Kalaignar TV.

Earlier this month, the trial began in a special CBI court in Delhi. It is expected to be long and complex. Some 150 witnesses are expected to appear.

If found guilty, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Last Wednesday, Sanjay Chandra, Vinod Goenka, Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara were bailed by the Supreme Court. All of them belong to firms associated with telecoms and were arrested in May.

They had also earlier been denied bail by the trial court and the high court.

The telecoms scandal has badly damaged the reputation of the government, which has been hit by a series of corruption cases.

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