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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Dutt jailed in Mumbai bombs case
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Sanjay Dutt arrives at the special court in Mumbai for his sentencing

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt has been jailed for six years for buying weapons from bombers who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) in 1993.

The star's lawyers argued he should remain free on bail for good behaviour, but the judge ruled against leniency.

Dutt, 48, is the most high-profile of 100 people who have been convicted over the blasts which killed 257 people.

The actor was cleared of conspiracy, but found guilty of illegally possessing a rifle and a pistol.

His lawyers said they would appeal against the sentence.

The blasts were allegedly carried out by Mumbai's Muslim-dominated underworld in retaliation for Hindu-Muslim riots which broke out after Hindu zealots tore down the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

'Mistake'

Dutt, who has been on bail since 1995 after spending 18 months in prison during the initial investigations into the bombings, has now been taken back into custody.

1993 MUMBAI BLASTS CASE
Scene of Mumbai blast, 1993
13 explosions
257 dead, 713 injured
100 convicted, 23 acquitted
12 death sentences, 20 life terms
About 25 suspects still sought
10,000 pages of charges
686 witnesses testify
35,000 pages of evidence
At least 13 years to reach a verdict

As the sentence was announced, a shocked Dutt told the court: "I made a mistake."

Judge PD Kode responded by saying "everybody makes mistakes".

But he said there was strong evidence against Dutt and he was not entitled to leniency.

"In no sense can this be said to be a minor offence."

Earlier, the court released on probation another defendant, Russi Mulla, who was also found guilty of possessing an illegal weapon.

Two others convicted of destroying an illegal weapon and possessing illegal weapons - were given jail terms of two and five years.

Tuesday's sentences bring to a dramatic end one of India's longest-running court cases. In all 100 people were convicted.

Twelve were given death sentences and 20 others life in prison. The remainder will serve varying prison terms.

The alleged masterminds of the blasts, Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, have been on the run since 1993.

Indian investigators say they were assisted by Pakistan's intelligence service, but Islamabad has denied any link.

'In the top ten'

Dutt found fame playing gangsters and anti-heroes. His trial has generated huge interest among Bollywood fans across India.

Sanjay Dutt arrives at the special court in Mumbai for his sentencing
Dutt enjoys a huge fan following in India

In anticipation of the sentence, he had stopped accepting new Bollywood projects and had completed almost all the films he had already been working on.

Dutt, whose recent hits include Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai (Keep Going Munnabhai), is one of the top stars in an industry starved of heroes.

Film expert Komal Nahata told the BBC News website that Sanjay Dutt is currently one of the top 10 actors in Bollywood.

"He is capable of delivering and playing many roles, maybe not central but important ones for the next 10 years at least," he said.

Mr Nahata said that although "not much money was riding on the actor at present" because he had stopped signing new films, his absence would hit the industry "quite badly".

Dutt, son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother, had initially confessed to having the weapon in order to defend his family against threats during the riots.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Clips of Sanjay Dutt's films



SEE ALSO
Dutt shocked by prison term
31 Jul 07 |  South Asia
Sanjay Dutt: Bollywood's bad boy
28 Nov 06 |  South Asia
In pictures: Sanjay Dutt
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Mumbai gripped by Dutt in the dock
28 Nov 06 |  South Asia
Long wait for Mumbai blasts justice
13 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Profile: India's fugitive gangster
12 Sep 06 |  South Asia
In pictures: 1993 Mumbai blasts
12 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Salem implicates Bollywood actor
01 Mar 06 |  South Asia

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