Bollywood star Salman Khan acquitted in 13-year-old hit-and-run case

Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:55am EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - An Indian court on Thursday overturned Bollywood actor Salman Khan's conviction in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case, scrapping a lower court's sentence of five years in jail for running over a homeless man.

The decision appears to free one of Bollywood's biggest stars from a case that threatened to end a career of portraying bad boys with a heart of gold in dozens of blockbusters.

A Mumbai criminal court had this year found Khan, 49, guilty of culpable homicide, accusing him of losing control of his Toyota Land Cruiser when driving drunk in 2002.

The vehicle rammed into a group of people sleeping on a city sidewalk, killing one and injuring four.

Khan had appealed against the May sentence.

On Thursday, the Bombay High Court ruled that the testimony of the state's star witness was not "wholly reliable", with the judge adding that the prosecution had not been able to prove conclusively that Khan was drunk at the time of the accident.

"The prosecution failed to establish its case on all charges," Justice A. R. Joshi told a packed courtroom, adding that Khan had been acquitted.

Khan showed little emotion, although his lawyer declared the ruling "a relief".   Continued...

Bollywood actor Salman Khan sits in a car as he leaves a court in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade