A sessions court in Mumbai on Wednesday found Bollywood star Salman Khan guilty of killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run crash reportedly after a night out drinking. Khan was accused of running over five persons sleeping on a pavement outside a bakery in Bandra in his white Toyota Land Cruiser early on September 28, 2002, killing one and injuring four.
In light of this verdict, Rediff.com presents the key witnesses involved in the case.
1) Ashok Singh
He was examined by Salman's lawyer. He told the court that he and not Salman was driving the car at the time of mishap. The driver, who appeared in the court for the first time, 13 years after the mishap, said he was working with Salman’s family for the past 22 years. However, the prosecution claimed that Singh was lying and had deposed only to save the actor.
2) Francis Fernandes
He was a friend and neighbour of Salman Khan. The actor calls him ‘Commander’. A resident of Hill Road where the accident took place, Fernandes told the court that he had helped Salman get away from the scene after the actor told him, “Commander Save me”. However, the defence team argued that Salman had asked him to save the injured persons trapped under the car.
3) Ravindra Himmatrao Patil
A constable then, he was deputed as Salman’s police escort on August 28, 2002. His duty hours were 8 pm to 8 am. Patil died of TB in 2007.
He was the police bodyguard of Salman and was with him in the car when the mishap occurred. In a statement before the magistrate, Patil said Salman was driving the car in a high speed after consuming drinks. Salman’s lawyer objected to his statement being taken on record since he passed away in 2007 and was therefore not available for cross-exam. He is also the complainant in this case.
4) Muslim Niyamat Sheikh
Sheikh was one of the four who was injured when Salman’s car rammed into the pavement in suburban Bandra. He told the court that on the day of mishap he was sleeping along with bakery workers outside the shop when suddenly he found himself underneath the car. He also claimed that he saw Salman getting down from the right side door of the car. However, before a magistrate earlier, he denied seeing the actor getting down from the right side. Hence, he was declared hostile.
5) Malay Bag
He was the barman at ‘Rain Bar’ in suburban Juhu where the actor had gone with friends hours before the mishap. He said he had served white rum, cocktails and chicken, prawns and snacks to the group of Salman.
6) Ramsare Pande
He owned a dairy at Hill Road at the accident spot. He had seen Salman getting down from the right side of the car. However, Salman’s lawyer argued that the left door of the car got jammed in the mishap and hence the actor got down from the right side. The witness also testified that the front left tyre of the car had burst and he saw Salman and his singer friend moving away from the accident spot.
7) Kalpesh Verma
He was the parking attendant at the hotel where the actor had gone before the mishap. Verma had handed over the car to Salman from the parking lot and had seen the actor occupying the driver’s seat. However, Salman’s lawyer argued that the actor was waiting for driver Ashok Singh to arrive as he had to relieve another driver Altaf.
8) Manu Khan
This witness has sustained injuries on his right leg in the mishap. He told the court that there were three people in the car and the actor got down from the driver’s side of the car. He also said, “Salman was so drunk that he fell down after getting out. He tried to stand but fell down again. Then, he ran away.”