Bollywood star Khan acquitted over hit-and-run death

Salman Khan leaving his home before a court appearance in May. He had been convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison but won a High Court appeal yesterday.
Salman Khan leaving his home before a court appearance in May. He had been convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison but won a High Court appeal yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MUMBAI • An Indian court yesterday cleared Bollywood star Salman Khan of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run crash 13 years ago, acquitting him of all charges after he appealed against his conviction.

The High Court in Bombay said a lower court had erred in finding Mr Khan guilty of culpable homicide at the end of his trial in May, when he was sentenced to five years' jail.

"The appeal is allowed and the decision of the trial court is quashed and set aside," Judge Anil Ramchandra Joshi said.

Mr Joshi said the prosecution had "failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt" that Mr Khan was driving his SUV and under the influence of alcohol when it rammed into a group of homeless men in suburban Mumbai in 2002. Labourer Nurulah Mahbob Sharif was killed and several others were injured.

A sessions court found Mr Khan guilty of all charges in May.

But Mr Joshi said the court had erred in accepting the testimony of the prosecution's key witness.

He described Mr Khan's former bodyguard, Mr Ravindra Patil, who had insisted the actor was behind the wheel and speeding, as "not wholly reliable", citing "various anomalies in his testimony".

Mr Patil died from tuberculosis in 2007.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'Bollywood star Khan acquitted over hit-and-run death'. Print Edition | Subscribe