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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 16:34 GMT
Star guilty in Mumbai bomb trial
Sanjay Dutt arrives at the anti-terrorism court in Mumbai on 28 November

Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt has been found guilty in connection with India's deadliest series of bomb attacks.

Dutt, 47, was convicted of possessing illegal firearms but cleared of conspiracy in the 1993 Mumbai attacks. He will be sentenced at a later date.

He was among 123 defendants facing trial over 12 blasts that killed 257 people and injured more than 700.

The attacks were allegedly ordered by the Muslim-dominated underworld in retaliation for Hindu-Muslim riots.

Dutt was acquitted on four more serious counts, including being part of the wider conspiracy behind the bomb attacks and trying to destroy evidence.

He denied those charges but admitted possessing the weapons, saying they were to protect his family.

During the reasoning, I have not found him [Dutt] to be a terrorist or a destructor
Judge PD Kode

Defence lawyer Satish Maneshinde told the BBC his client faced a possible sentence of between five and 10 years.

The actor was arrested 13 years ago on terrorism charges and spent nearly two years in prison before the Supreme Court ordered his release on bail.

Correspondents say the connections between the Mumbai film industry and the criminal underworld in the city have long been one of Bollywood's worst-kept secrets.

Agitated

Sanjay Dutt is the most high-profile defendant in the trial yet. Proceedings have gripped Bollywood, the world's most prolific film industry.

1993 MUMBAI BLASTS
A scene from the 1993 Mumbai blast (Pic: Fawzan Husain)
12 blasts
257 dead
713 injured
123 arrested and tried
686 witnesses testify
35,000 pages of evidence submitted
13 years to reach verdicts

Dutt was in court and looked agitated as the judge delivered his verdict.

Dressed in a grey and red-checked shirt and jeans with a vermillion mark on his forehead, the actor told the judge before being ordered to keep quiet: "I am the only earning member of the family."

Judge PD Kode said the actor was guilty of illegally possessing weapons that had been given to him by some of the men accused of carrying out the bomb attacks.

But he added: "I've not found him to be a terrorist or destructor."

The actor's lawyers then successfully applied for bail to be extended so he could attend to financial and other matters. Dutt has until 19 December to turn himself in to the authorities.

Tens of millions of dollars are riding on films which involve the actor.

Film analyst Taran Adarsh said it was "a huge blow" for Bollywood, but added: "Whatever the verdict might be, trade analysts feel that this will not affect Sanjay's popularity among his fans."

So far more than 80 of the 123 accused men and women have been found guilty in the case. Twenty-three were acquitted.

Verdicts have been announced in stages since mid-September. Sentences are to be passed a later date.

Marathon trial

There have been few trials in India's legal history to match this one.

Evidence has been taken from more than 600 witnesses.

The bombings are believed to have been carried out by one of the city's notorious underworld crime syndicates, which were then dominated by Muslims.

Their motive is said to have been revenge for religious riots a few months earlier that left more than 2,000 people dead across India, most of them Muslims.

The man thought to have masterminded the plot, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has still not been caught.

India says he and another key suspect, Tiger Memon, are hiding in Pakistan, a charge Pakistan has denied.

Most of the accused have been in jail for the past 13 years.

The case has taken so long that 12 of the accused have died and others have been imprisoned for so much longer than their likely sentence that a guilty verdict may still result in them walking free.




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The charges faced by the Bollywood star



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In pictures: 1993 Mumbai blasts
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