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Blackbuck poaching case: Verdict on Salman, Saif and others on Thursday

Jodhpur:  A Jodhpur court will pronounce its verdict in the 1998 black buck poaching case against actor Salman Khan and others, on Thursday. Final arguments of the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment.

All actors, including Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu Sonali Bendre and Neelam, will be present in the court for the pronouncement of the verdict.

Salman Khan, 52, had boarded a chartered plane from the Mumbai airport for Jodhpur on Wednesday, after landing from Abu Dhabi, where he went for the shooting for “Race 3″, sources close to the actor said.

Bendre, Saif Ali Khan and Tabu also left for Jodhpur from Mumbai.

Salman Khan was accused of killing two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the intervening night of 1-2 October, 1998, during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain.

Salman Khan is facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the other actors have been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

All of them were in a Gypsy car that night, with Salman Khan in the driving seat. He, on spotting a herd of black bucks, shot at and killed two of them, Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had said.

But on being spotted and chased, they fled from the spot leaving the dead animals there,” he said, adding that there was adequate evidence against them.

Refuting these allegations, Salman Khan’s counsel H M Saraswat said there were several loopholes in the prosecution’s story and it had failed to prove its case beyond any doubt.

Prosecution has failed to prove the allegations. It engaged in tampering and fabricating evidence and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove its case,” he said.

“It even failed to prove that the blackbucks were killed by gunshots. Hence, such investigation cannot be trusted,” Saraswat said.

The case also involved two more accused, Dushyant Singh, who was allegedly accompanying the actors when the poaching took place, and Dinesh Gawre, said to be Salman Khan’s assistant.

Gawre never appeared in court and was made to disappear by the main accused. Had he been around, there could have been more information available in the case,” Bhati claimed.

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