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Salman’s lawyer seeks to pick holes in witnesses’ accounts

The lawyer of Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who has filed an appeal against his conviction and five years’ prison term in the 2002 hit-and-run case, told the Bombay High Court that testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were inconsistent and unreliable.

The sessions court had on May 6 found Salman guilty of ramming his Toyota Land Cruiser into a shop in suburban Bandra in a drunken state, leading to death of one person and injury of four others who were sleeping on the pavement.

Advocate Amit Desai, Salman’s lawyer, argued before the HC today that the four injured persons, while testifying in the court, were totally silent on the conduct of the actor’s friend, singer Kamaal Khan and Salman’s bodyguard, constable Ravindra Patil, both of whom were in the car at the time.

“There is not a word about what Patil and Kamaal Khan did at that time. Did they help victims? Or they helped in lifting the car? Or did they leave the place?….There is nothing to suggest whether Kamaal Khan had taken alcoholic drinks or whether he was sober,” said Desai.

These two should have described the whole incident but while Kamaal Khan was not examined at all, Patil had just “one song to render that Salman was drunk and he was driving”, said Desai. Patil, an eye-witness, died during the trial.

Three of the four witnesses who sustained injuries in the mishap — Muslim Nimayat Shaikh, Mannu Khan and Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan — were tutored by the police as they testified that Salman Khan got out from the right side of the car (driver’s seat). However, another witness, Mohammed Abdullah Shaikh, did not support this, Desai contended.

Though the accident took place on September 28, 2002, and on October 31, 2002, the charge sheet was filed, the witness Muslim Shaikh had said that his statement was recorded two and half months after the incident, while Mannu Khan, another witness, had said he simply signed a statement given to him, Desai said.

The arguments before Justice A R Joshi will continue on Wednesday.

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