An Indian court has cleared Bollywood superstar Salman Khan of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run crash 13 years ago, acquitting him of all charges right after he appealed his conviction.
The Bombay High Court mentioned a reduced court had erred in obtaining Mr Khan guilty of culpable homicide at the end of his trial in Might, when he was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.
“The appeal is allowed and the selection of the trial court is quashed and set aside. Salman Khan is acquitted of all charges,” judge Anil Ramchandra Joshi told the Bombay Higher Court.
Judge Joshi said the prosecution had “failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Khan was driving his SUV and below the influence of alcohol when it rammed into a group of homeless guys in suburban Mumbai in 2002.
Labourer Nurulah Mahbob Sharif was killed and numerous other individuals have been injured when the vehicle ploughed into them at speed as they slept on a street in the suburb of Bandra West.
A sessions court identified Mr Khan guilty of all charges in Could, including driving under the influence and without having a licence.
But judge Joshi, who presided more than the appeal, said the court had erred in accepting the testimony of the prosecution’s essential witness.
He described Mr Khan’s former bodyguard, Ravindra Patil, who had insisted the actor was behind the wheel and speeding, as “not wholly reputable”, citing “a variety of anomalies in his testimony”.
“Unfortunately there are no witnesses to back his version,” the judge stated about Mr Patil, who died from tuberculosis in 2007.
Mr Khan’s trial began in earnest last year after a series of court hearings and lengthy legal hold-ups.
His defence group maintained throughout that the actor’s driver was to blame for the accident.
They claimed Mr Khan had been drinking water and had climbed out of the car by way of the driver’s side right after the accident as the passenger door had been broken.
But the sessions court rejected that defence and located him guilty on Could 6.
Mr Khan immediately appealed and the sentence was suspended two days later, pending the outcome.
The multi-millionaire has been out on bail throughout the trial and appeal, the case seemingly not interfering with his profession as one of the Indian movie industry’s greatest box-workplace draws.
Mr Khan, 49, has starred in far more than one hundred films and tv shows because his very first hit Maine Pyar Kiya (I Fell in Love) in the 1980s.
Topics: arts-and-entertainment, law-crime-and-justice, death, india, asia