Home Secretary Michael Howard yesterday gave the clearest hint yet that the Iraqi hijackers who forced a Sudanese aircraft to land at Stansted airport will be prosecuted in Britain rather than being immediately deported. Several Conservative Party MPs have called for the seven hostage-takers, who are claiming asylum in Britain, to be thrown out of the country without delay. The men gave themselves up on Monday after a tense eight-hour standoff at the airport, where the Sudanese Airways Airbus A310 was diverted after it was seized on a flight between Sudan's capital Khartoum and Amman in Jordan. All 199 passengers and crew were released unharmed. The hijackers are now in custody at Harlow police station while the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to take them to court. But the issue of what to do with the men is a serious dilemma for Mr Howard, knowing they are likely to be executed if returned to Iraq or its close ally Sudan. The Home Secretary said: 'I believe that those who are guilty of the serious offence of hijacking should be brought to justice for it.' He insisted that consideration of possible criminal charges must come before any decision on deporting the men saying: 'There is no question of considering any claim for asylum until the claim for criminal proceedings has been resolved. 'After that question has been resolved, then, if they make an application for asylum, we are obliged to consider it.' There is a large Iraqi dissident population in Britain and the Government has a reputation for not deporting those who have fled Saddam Hussein's regime. But David Howell, Tory chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said: 'If the word gets round that the quick way to asylum is three years in jail and then you're out - and in the country where you wanted to get to - that would be absolutely disastrous to the whole policy towards asylum-seekers.' Six women relatives of the hijackers were yesterday in custody in Essex, where they were being questioned to see if they had played any part in the incident. Two children have been taken into local authority care. The remainder of the Airbus' 186 passengers and 13 crew spent the night in hotels and were expected to be flown to Amman within 24 hours. Mr Howard defended the decision to let the hijacked aircraft land in Britain. 'There were 190 passengers on board this plane and you have to have regard to their safety,' he said. A police spokesman said officers had discovered knives and imitation explosives on board the aircraft.