Arms case: Bollywood actor acquitted

Mr Khan leaving the Jodhpur court yesterday. He was acquitted of possessing and using an unlicensed weapon in 1998.
Mr Khan leaving the Jodhpur court yesterday. He was acquitted of possessing and using an unlicensed weapon in 1998.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MUMBAI • An Indian court yesterday acquitted Bollywood star Salman Khan of possessing an unlicensed weapon nearly two decades ago, ending a case that threatened to derail the career of one of the country's biggest actors.

Mr Khan, 51, had been charged with possessing and using an unlicensed weapon to kill an endangered gazelle in 1998 on a hunting trip in the desert state of Rajasthan, where he was filming the movie Hum Saath-Saath Hain (We Stand United).

The actor, who built his career on portrayals of bad boys with a heart of gold, was previously cleared of the poaching charge.

Mr Khan, who was present in court in the city of Jodhpur for the verdict, was given the "benefit of the doubt and acquitted of all charges", his lawyer Hastimal Saraswat told reporters.

The actor could have faced up to seven years in jail if found guilty of possessing an unlicensed gun.

Minutes after the verdict, Mr Khan, accompanied by a gaggle of lawyers and his sister, walked out of court without stopping to comment. Later he tweeted: "Thank you for all the support and good wishes."

This was not his first brush with the law. In 2015, the Bombay High Court overturned his conviction in a hit-and-run case in which he was accused of running over a homeless man.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Arms case: Bollywood actor acquitted'. Print Edition | Subscribe