In an important testimony, a witness said in Mumbai on Tuesday that actor Salman Khan did not smell of alcohol on the night of the accident 12 years ago. The 63-year old witness said this while deposing before a city court in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which Salman Khan is an accused.

63-year old Francis Fernandez, who was a welding labourer, was the seventh witness to depose before the court on Tuesday. He stays close to the accident site. “I was with Salman for a few minutes after the accident. I didn’t smell any alcohol on him when I was with him. He was able to walk normally. He was normal,” he said.

Mr. Fernandez, a prosecution witness, said he knew Salman since the actor’s childhood and that the actor referred to him as ‘Commander’.

“On 28th September 2002, I was sleeping in my house. I heard a big bang and I got up. After a few minutes I heard voices shouting ‘Bachao, bachao!’ (Save me). I ran towards the site,” he said.

During the cross-questioning by the defence lawyer, Mr. Fernandez said that he felt Salman Khan was in danger as mobs with iron rods and stones had surrounded him.

‘Commander, save me!’

“When I reached the spot, I saw that Salman Khan was surrounded by a mob. One bhaiyya (labourer) was having a rod in his hands. I pulled it away. Another one too had a rod. I pulled that away too. Salman Khan

saw me and came and hugged me. “Commander, save me,” he said to me,” Mr. Fernandez deposed.

The defence counsel Shrikant Shivde asked him if the mob had become furious due to the accident. “Yes. After seeing the furious mob with rods, I thought Salman and his friends were in danger. So I separated him from the mob and took him in the direction of A-1 bakery,” he said.

Mr. Shivde then asked him if he advised Salman to go home since the mob was furious. “The mob was still furious when I took Salman to A1 bakery. I advised him to go home. A car was passing by. My wife stopped it. Salman Khan boarded it,” he said.

He said he had seen Salman’s Land Cruiser at the accident site. He added that the police were not present at the spot when he reached.

Road repair

The defence counsel also asked Mr. Fernandez if repair work was going on at the road near the accident site. “Just before the Hill Road, there were 10-12 speedbreakers on St Andrews road. Road repair work was going on near American Express bakery at that time and stones and rubble were lying at the spot,” Mr. Fernandez agreed with Mr. Shivde.

The police are now expected to produce at least three more witnesses before the court which will enter the final phase of the hearing in June-end. The trial is expected to conclude in July.

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