Salman Khan Was Driving Drunk and Without a License, Said Judge

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Salman Khan Was Driving Drunk and Without a License, Said Judge

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Actor Salman Khan on his way to court.

Mumbai:  Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has been sentenced to five years in jail after he was found guilty of killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run after a night out drinking.

Judge DW Deshpande convicted the 49-year-old of culpable homicide for crashing his SUV while drunk into a group of homeless men sleeping on the pavement and then fleeing the scene.

"You were driving the car, without a licence and you were under the influence of alcohol," the judge told the Bollywood star who was present in the court.

During the trial, Mr Khan blamed his driver for the crash; he is expected to be taken into custody from the court. (#SalmanVerdict: What Twitter Had to Say After Actor Found Guilty)

One man was killed and several others were injured in the incident after the actor's Toyota Land Cruiser caused the accident. The actor had spent the evening at an upmarket bar.

The trial began in earnest last year after a series of court hearings and legal hold-ups.

A string of prosecution witnesses, including survivors of the crash, have testified that Mr Khan was driving the vehicle when it ploughed at speed into the men sleeping on the street near a bakery in September 2002.

When the superstar took the stand in March, he pleaded not guilty and told the court that his driver was responsible for mounting the pavement in the upmarket suburb of Bandra West.

The driver testified in court last month that he had been behind the wheel, and that the crash occurred after the front left tyre burst, making steering and braking difficult. (Ashok Singh, Salman Khan's Driver, May Face Charges of Perjury: Sources)

But a constable attached to Mr Khan's security detail said in his statement to police that the drunk actor lost control of the car while driving at about 55 miles per hour.

"The people were sleeping on the footpath. Salman and (his cousin) Kamaal ran away from the spot," said the constable, who died in 2007 of tuberculosis.

One of the sleeping labourers injured in the accident said in his statement that "Salman was so drunk he fell. He stood but he fell again and then he... ran away."

Mr Khan's lawyers said the action and romantic comedy star had, in fact, been drinking water all evening and had climbed out of the driver's seat after the accident because the passenger side door had been damaged.

They also said that the victim, Nurulhah Sharif, was killed during an operation to move the car, rather than the crash itself, when the bumper fell off and landed on him.

Mr Khan, the son of respected film writer Salim Khan, has starred in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit "Maine Pyar Kiya" in the 1980s.

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