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. He was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
Hours before the verdict, #WeLoveYouSalmanKhan and #SalmanVerdict were trending on Twitter. Relatives and friends from the industry, including Shah Rukh Khan, were seen visiting Khan on Wednesday night.
The 49-year-old actor is known for cranking out some of Bollywood's biggest blockbusters and has an estimated Rs 300 crore riding on his films.
Sessions judge DW Deshpande pronounced the judgement amid tight security around the court where only lawyers, media and court staff were allowed.
The actor has said he was not at the wheel at the time of the accident. While the prosecution has insisted that a drunk Khan was driving the SUV that ran over the victims sleeping on the pavement, the actor said his driver Ashok Singh was behind the wheel.
The prosecution further said the actor ran away from the scene of the crime.
The defence argued that police had not obtained fingerprints from the steering wheel to find out who was driving the vehicle.
Khan's lawyers contested the prosecution and said he had been drinking water all evening. They also said the man was killed during an operation to move the car, rather than in the crash, when the bumper fell off and landed on him.
The surprise element in the trial came when Khan's driver Ashok Singh came to the court after 12 years and deposed he was at the wheel when the accident occurred. Singh said the car's front left tyre burst, making steering and braking difficult.
Khan has starred in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit, Maine Pyar Kiya, in the 1980s. The muscular actor is no stranger to controversy off screen and in 1998, he spent more than a week in prison for allegedly killing endangered blackbucks.
He is facing two other cases in Rajasthan for allegedly poaching endangered animals and possessing arms without a valid licence.