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Make or mar verdict in Salman’s hit-and-run case tomorrow

Salman Khan at Sessions Court

Mumbai:  A Mumbai sessions court will pronounce its verdict tomorrow in the hit-and-run case against Bollywood superstar Salman Khan who, if convicted, could face upto 10 years in jail.

The judgement in the over 12-year-old case, whose trial saw many twists and turns, can make or mar the career of the actor on whom ride investments of over Rs 200 crore.

A tight security blanket will be thrown around the court when sessions judge D W Deshpande pronounces the judgement tomorrow. Only the lawyers, media and the court staff will be allowed to be present.

While fixing May 6 for delivering the verdict last month, Deshpande had directed the 49-year-old actor to be present at 11.15 am.

The popular actor was tried afresh under the harsher charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which is punishable with imprisonment upto 10 years.

A Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate, who conducted the trial under lesser charge of rash and negligent driving, which carries a maximum punishment of two years, had in 2012 slapped the more serious offence of culpable homicide and committed the matter to the sessions court.

The actor has claimed he was not at the wheel at the time of the accident which killed one person and left four others injured on the night of September 28, 2002. While the prosecution has insisted that a drunk Khan was driving the Toyota Land Cruiser that ran over the victims sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra, the actor has claimed it was his driver Ashok Singh who was behind the wheel. Driver Singh has endorsed the defence’s claim.

The defence also argued that police had not obtained finger prints from the steering wheel to find out who was driving the vehicle.

Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat has alleged that Khan was driving the vehicle after consuming ‘Bacardi rum’ at a bar, a charge denied by the actor, who said he had just a glass of water.

Nurullah Mehboob Sharif was killed in the accident in which Kalim Mohammed Pathan, Munna Malai Khan, Abdullah Rauf Shaikh and Muslim Shaikh had been injured.

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