Couple accused of enslaving get bail
The release comes with strict conditions including 2 armed guards from a private security firm guarding their house.world Updated: Aug 23, 2007 04:30 IST
A multimillionaire Indian-American couple, facing charges of enslaving and torturing two Indonesian women, was released on bail but will be kept under strict house arrest in their mansion.
Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and her husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, walked out of the prison without handcuffs for the first time since they were arrested three months ago after they posted a bail for $4.5 million.
Prosecutors had insisted that the couple, which has family in Indonesia and has been running a perfume business from their home in Long Island in New York, is a flight risk.
The release came with strict conditions including two armed guards from a private security firm guarding their house round the clock, wearing of electronic monitoring brackets by both and monitoring of their telephones and Internet connection by a private security firm.
The couple would pay for the security which, according to some accounts, cost upto $10,000 per day.
Their trial is scheduled to begin later this year and if convicted, each could get up to 20 years in prison.
The Sabhnanis have denied the charges. US District Judge Thomas Platt had denied them bail but his decision was overturned by the appeals court.
Speaking to reporters, one of Sabhnanis attorneys Jeffrey Hoffman said the couple was happy and thrilled to be going home to their four children.
It has been difficult for the couple's children, who are in their teens and early 20s, without having their parents at home, he added.