For the first time in 13 years, actor Salman Khan has given his version of the infamous 2002 hit-and-run case in a court today. The superstar has reportedly claimed that he was not driving the SUV that ran over people sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai, his driver Ashok Singh was.
The accident took the life of one person and injured four people.
According to the Hindustan Times, 49-year-old Khan arrived at the Mumbai Sessions Court at 11 am on Friday, attired in a white shirt and blue denim jeans and his deposition began 30 minutes later. Accompanying him in court were his sisters Alvira and Arpita as well as his personal bodyguard.
Testifying in a Mumbai sessions court, the 49-year-old repeatedly denied that he drove his Toyota Land Cruiser at a high speed, in a drunk state, in the early hours of 28 September 2002.
"My left door was jammed so I could not open it," Mr Khan said, according to this report by NDTV, when the court asked him to respond to witnesses, including his bodyguard Ravindra Patil, saying he exited from the driver's side.
When asked whether he had been sitting on the driver's seat, he admitted to doing so, but only "briefly" when one driver got out and another, Ashok Singh, took over.
Meanwhile, when asked about the statement made by a parking attendant at the Mariott in October 2014, who said he remembered giving Khan the keys as he sat in the driver's seat of the car, Khan simply said, "I don't remember."
He also denied being drunk, even though he confirmed that he was at a bar in Juhu's JW Marriott hotel and another bar called Rain in Bandra (which has since shut down). While earlier reports said he was drunk, Khan said he "only drank water" and didn't order a single cocktail. He claimed that the bills made out for drinks as well as food weren't his.
As for the claim made by Munnu Shaikh, one of the witnesses had said in May 2014 that Khan was so drunk that he had fallen down and gotten up again. When asked about this by the judge, Khan replied, "False."
The NDTV report also says that Khan contradicted accounts that said he ran away from the accident spot. "I instructed the driver to inform the police. I remained at the spot for 15 minutes or more," he told the court.
On 5 December last year, the court had ordered a fresh trial after charges against the actor were enhanced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. If the court convicts Khan, then he could be in jail for up to ten years.
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