Salman Khan sentenced to five years in prison in hit-and-run case
Indian court has sentenced Bollywood star Salman Khan to five years in jail for killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run driving incident in Mumbai.
The man was among five people who were run over in the incident. The actor was charged with culpable homicide.
Khan had said his driver was behind the wheel, but the judge said the actor was driving the car and was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Legal experts expect the actor to appeal against the verdict.
He could have been jailed for 10 years.
But correspondents say the guilty verdict is a huge setback for Khan who is one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, appearing in more than 80 Hindi-language films.
Several of his films, including Dabangg, Ready, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun, have been huge commercial hits.
On Wednesday morning, as the actor drove to court with his family and friends, fans prayed for the actor’s acquittal.
But Judge DW Deshpande found him guilty on the charge of culpable homicide.
“You were driving the car; you were under the influence of alcohol,” Judge told the actor as soon as the court proceedings began.
Indian television channels reported the actor broke down inside court as the guilty verdict was announced.
Several of his Bollywood colleagues spoke out in his support and expressed their sympathies. Actress Hema Malini said she was praying for him and hoped he would escape with a light sentence.
If the actor is jailed, it will affect several big-ticket film projects he is involved in at the moment.
The case has gripped Bollywood and India for years.
Late on the night of 28 September 2002, Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser hit the American Express bakery in the Bandra area of Mumbai, authorities say.
The vehicle ran over five people sleeping on the street, killing 38-year-old Noor Ullah Khan and seriously injuring three others. Another person received minor injuries.
The prosecution alleged that Khan had been driving the car while drunk, both of which charges the actor denied in court in March.
But many witnesses disagreed.
A constable attached to Khan’s security detail said in a statement to the police that the “drunk” actor had lost control of the car. The policeman died in 2007 of tuberculosis.
In April, Khan’s driver told the court that he had crashed the car after a tyre burst but the court did not accept that version.
September 2002: Salman Khan’s car runs over five people sleeping on a Mumbai street, killing a homeless man and injuring four others
October 2002: Khan charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder – arrested but granted bail
May 2003: Court rejects his plea to drop culpable homicide charge
June 2003: Bombay high court drops culpable homicide charge; actor is then tried for rash and negligent driving
October 2007: Prime witness, a constable who served in his security detail, dies
March 2015: Khan tells the court he was not drunk and his driver was behind the wheel
May 2015: Khan found guilty, sent to jail for five years