63-year-old tells court that the actor appeared normal and was walking straight; he did not smell of alcohol
In a breather to actor Salman Khan, a witness yesterday informed a local court that it appeared to him that the actor did not appear drunk after his car rammed into a shop in suburban Bandra in 2002, killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside.
Francis Fernandes (63), a neighbour of Salman, who stays near the site of the mishap, told sessions judge D W Deshpande that he had gone to the spot after hearing the screams of people and saw the actor surrounded by a mob armed with sticks and stones.
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Fernandes said he knew Salman since his (the latter’s) childhood and stayed in the same area where the actor resided and also where the accident had taken place.
Surrounded by a mob
“Salman did not appear to be drunk as there was no smell of alcohol when I went near him. He looked normal and walked straight,” the witness said much to the relief of Salman, who was standing in the dock listening to the deposition.
Fernandes said this while replying to questions put forward by Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade during cross-examination. The case of the prosecution is that the actor was drunk when he met with the accident.
According to the police, Salman had allegedly consumed a couple of drinks with friends at a bar in J W Marriot hotel at Juhu before he met with an accident on September 28, 2002, outside American Express Bakery.
“I got up on hearing the shouts of ‘Bachao Bachao’ and went down to the place where people had gathered with sticks and stones. I went near Salman.
On seeing me, he said Commander mujhe bacha lijiye (Commander save me from the people),” Fernandes told public prosecutor Jagannath Kenjralkar.
Threat to life
The witness said that he took Salman in the direction of his (actor’s) house. Fernandes said his wife asked the actor to sit in their car and go home. Salman then left for home in their car, the court was told.
Fernandes said he was successful in pulling out the actor from the scene of mishap and advised him to go home. To another question, the witness said that the mob had become violent after the accident.
“After seeing the crowd armed with sticks and stones, I felt that Salman’s life was in danger,” he said. Police, however, had not arrived by that time and came after 10 to 15 minutes.
A clean shaven Salman, attired in a navy blue shirt and jeans, had come to the court along with his bodyguard and two sisters, Alvira and Arpita.