Mumbai, May 6: Three witnesses in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit-and-run retrial today identified him as an occupant of the car but disagreed whether he was at the wheel. One of them said the actor was drunk.
Salman faces culpable homicide charges carrying a 10-year term. His Land Cruiser had allegedly run over pavement dwellers, killing one and crippling four, on a September night in Bandra.
When the fresh trial was ordered last December, some lawyers had said it could help the actor because the only witness to have testified that he was driving — police constable and Salman’s bodyguard Ravindra Patil who was in the car — was dead.
But Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan, a bakery employee injured in the accident, today told the sessions court he saw Salman get off the car from “the driver’s seat”.
Fellow witness Muslim Sheikh, 24, however, said he saw Salman alight “from the other side of the car”.
Manu Khan could not say which side of the car Salman got off but, pointing at the actor, told the court: “Salman was so drunk that he fell down, then got up, and ran away.”
Salman, sporting a French-cut beard, sat in the dock looking dazed. He didn’t react when the witnesses identified him.
His sisters Arpita and Alvira watched from a bench in the courtroom, packed with journalists, police and fans of Salman, who has just returned from Poland after shooting for his new film Kick.
Towards the end of the day’s proceedings, Muslim Sheikh filed an application alleging he had received two “threat calls” two days ago asking him not to depose. Details of the application were not available but police sources said Sheikh had been offered Rs 5 lakh to withdraw from the case.
Salman initially faced the lighter charges of causing death by negligence but this was later upgraded to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The retrial was granted after Salman argued the witnesses should be examined afresh in the light of the graver charge.