Bollywood actor sentenced to five years

March 21, 2013 at 7:18 AM
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NEW DELHI, March 21 (UPI) -- India's Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts and sentenced a popular actor to five years in jail.

The coordinated blasts in India's financial capital killed 257 people and injured over 700. It was a toll far higher than the November 2008 terror attacks in the same city in which 166 people, including foreigners, died and more than 200 were wounded.

In Thursday's ruling, the court upheld the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, brother of one of the main accused conspirators Tiger Memon, who remains at large. The court also upheld the life sentences of 16 others in the case.

Sanjay Dutt, 53, a popular Bollywood actor, was sentenced to five years for illegal possession of weapons including automatic rifles, which were part of a consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for the 1993 blasts, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. He had claimed he had no knowledge about the blasts.

Dutt had earlier been sentenced to six years in jail by a special court but that was reduced to five years. Since he has already served one and one-half years before being out on bail, the Supreme Court ordered him to serve the remainder of the sentence.

The court said the blasts were organized by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is suspected to be living in Pakistan, and others.

India also has accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency of being involved in the blasts, an accusation Pakistan has denied.

In the case of Dutt, the court said: "We are in agreement with conclusion arrived at by the designated (special) court that had rejected the arguments of the appellant Sanjay Dutt." It ordered him to surrender within a month.

Bollywood movie producers reportedly have invested heavily in Dutt. His sentencing was received with shock and sadness.

Noted producer-director Karan Johar, who has signed Dutt for one of his forthcoming movies, said: "I am truly shattered to hear of Sanju's sentence ... the nicest guy I have known just doesn't deserve this ... My heart goes out to him," PTI reported.

"The '93 blast case should not be made about Sanjay Dutt. The real planners are sitting safely in Pakistan like Osama Bin Laden was," Director Kunal Kholi said.

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