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Bollywood star Salman Khan has successfully appealed his criminal conviction for a deadly hit-and-run case in which he killed a man in 2002.
The Bombay High Court on Dec. 10 overturned a previous guilty verdict and cleared Khan of all charges.
A lower court in May found the actor guilty of culpable homicide for the incident, in which he ran over a group of homeless men in Mumbai with his SUV, while drunk, killing one and injuring others. The actor was sentenced to five years in prison, but he was granted bail pending his appeal.
The much anticipated verdict Thursday was widely covered by major media outlets, which showed Khan arriving in court for the hearing.
The Times of India quoted the judgment by Justice A R Joshi stating that the prosecution “failed to bring material on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant (Khan) was driving and under the influence of alcohol.”
More importantly, the court also ruled out the testimony of a star witness in the case, Khan’s former bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who was also in the car when the accident happened. The court said Patil, who passed away in 2007, “was not a wholly reliable witness.”
The hashtag #SalmanVerdict instantly became a top trending topic on Twitter following the court’s decision, with both fans and critics having their say.
Finally we know ! The car was drunk . #SalmanVerdict
— Anjana Om Kashyap (@anjanaomkashyap) December 10, 2015
Salman didn’t kill them, The Driver didn’t kill them! Then who killed them? John Cena???? #SalmanVerdict
— Chait (@chait99) December 10, 2015
Dear Salman Haters: instd of blindly pouring hate n so called humour, y don’t u see facts of the case #SalmanVerdict
— Radhika (@radha763) December 10, 2015
Khan is one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars with a career spanning three decades. This year alone he delivered two major hits: Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The latter, distributed by Fox Star Studios in the U.S., opened in the top 10 on its U.S. debut, a sign of Khan’s popularity among diaspora audiences. The actor is also famous as the host of the Indian version of Big Brother, which airs on Viacom18 network’s Colors channel.
Prosecutors in the case can still appeal the high court’s decision to India’s Supreme Court.
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