MUMBAI: Bollywood star Salman Khan was on Wednesday sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty by a court of killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run crash after a night out drinking.
While convicting Khan, sessions court judge DW Deshpande said all the charges against the star, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder, had been proved.
The judge said 49-year-old Khan was driving the car at the time of the accident and the defence’s contention that his driver Ashok Singh was at the wheel was not probable.
The judge heard arguments on the quantum of sentence and Khan’s lawyer sought a lesser sentence in view of his humanitarian work. He said the actor had paid Rs 19 lakh as compensation to the victims and would do more if ordered.
“We are not running away from responsibility,” the counsel said. Khan himself pleaded with the judge for a lesser sentence.
The prosecution sought the maximum punishment.
Khan was charged with running over five persons sleeping on a pavement outside a bakery in Bandra in his Toyota Land Cruiser early on September 28, 2002, killing one and injuring four. Prosecutors said he was under the influence of alcohol.
Whether Khan is sent to jail on Wednesday or he gets bail will be decided by the court.
Khan has the option to appeal in the Bombay High court against the sessions court’s verdict.
The prosecution examined 27 witnesses in the case, including eyewitnesses, persons who were injured in the accident, employees of a bar where Khan was drinking, the doctor who took a blood sample of the actor, doctors who treated the injured, forensic experts and police officers.
The judgement was announced amid tight security around the court at Kalaghoda and only lawyers, media and court staff were allowed in the courtroom. A large number of media teams, lawyers and fans converged on the court complex to find out about the actor’s fate.