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NRI couple denied bail in slavery case

The couple who run a successful perfume business have been accused of enslaving two Indonesian women for five years.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2007 13:52 IST

A wealthy Indian American couple, who were arrested last month on charges of enslaving two Indonesian women, have been denied bail by a federal court here.

In his ruling Monday, judge Thomas Platt found no suitable reason to grant bail to Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and her husband Mahender Murlidhar and labelled efforts to have them released to home detention a "futile attempt".

The Sabhnanis, who operate a successful perfume business from their mansion in Long Island, were arrested May 13 on charges of enslaving two Indonesian women they hired as housekeepers for five years.

In his ruling Platt said he attributed the unsuccessful attempt over the past several weeks to turn the couple's home into a prison to defence attorneys' failure to work out a plan acceptable to federal prosecutors, News Day reported.

Last month, Platt had indicated he might be willing to allow the couple to be freed on $3.5 million bail if prosecutors and the defence team agreed to a set of conditions for house arrest like electronic monitoring and 24-hour surveillance.

The Sabhnanis showed no emotion when the judge announced his decision. If convicted, each could face a sentence of 17-22 years in prison.

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