India's former BJP chief Bangaru Laxman freed on bail

Bangaru Laxman in 2000
Image caption Bangaru Laxman said he had accepted the money as a donation for his party

A court in India has freed on bail the former head of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was sentenced to four years in jail for taking a bribe in a fake defence deal.

Bangaru Laxman was secretly videotaped accepting money from reporters posing as arms dealers 11 years ago.

News website Tehelka taped politicians, army officers and bureaucrats taking money in connection with the fake deal.

Laxman was sentenced in April. He and the others said they had been framed.

Laxman, 73, was granted bail by the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

He had applied for bail on 4 September saying that he was "old and suffering from various ailments", Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

In the 2001 video, reporters posing as arms dealers offered Laxman 100,000 rupees ($1,900; £1,170) as a bribe for a military contract. Laxman was seen taking the bribe.

Laxman said he had accepted the money as a donation for the BJP and had handed it over to the party treasurer.

After the video footage was shown on television channels, Laxman - who was BJP president at the time - and the then defence minister George Fernandes were forced to resign.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation later charged Laxman under anti-corruption laws.

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