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India court upholds actor Sanjay Dutt's conviction

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm •  Published: March 21, 2013
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NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Supreme Court upheld the weapons conviction of Bollywood leading man Sanjay Dutt and ordered him to report to prison within four weeks in a case linked to the deadliest terror attack in Indian history.

Dutt's failed appeal of his conviction was part of a broader ruling by the Supreme Court on cases stemming from the 1993 bombings that killed 257 people in the financial hub of Mumbai. A total of 100 people were convicted of involvement in the blasts.

The court also Thursday upheld the death sentence given to Yakub Memon, who is a brother of Ibrahim 'Tiger' Memon, a suspected mastermind of the bombings who remains at large. However, the court commuted to life in prison the death sentences given to 10 other men convicted of carrying out the blasts. Some of the men have been in prison for nearly two decades.

Dutt, 53, originally had been sentenced to serve six years in prison on the charge of possessing an automatic rifle and a pistol that were supplied to him by men subsequently convicted in the bombings. He served 18 months in jail before he was released on bail in November 2007 pending an appeal to the top court.

The Supreme Court shaved one year off his sentence and ordered him imprisoned within a month to finish out the remaining 3 1/2 years of his sentence. Dutt had earlier been acquitted of the more serious charges of terrorism and conspiracy.

In a statement released to the Indian media, Dutt said he was "heart-broken" and "shattered and in emotional distress."

"If they want me to suffer more I have to be strong," he said.

Dutt told reporters that he was consulting experts to explore his legal options.

The actor's case is part of a sprawling Mumbai bombings trial that has lasted 18 years. Dutt maintains he knew nothing about the bombing plot and that he asked for the guns to protect his family — his mother was Muslim and his father Hindu — after receiving threats during sectarian riots in Mumbai.

The 1993 bombings were seen at the time as the world's worst terrorist attack, with 13 bombs exploding over a two-hour period across Mumbai. Powerful explosives were packed into cars and scooters parked near India's main Bombay Stock Exchange and other sites in the city. In addition to the 257 dead, more than 720 people were injured in the attack.

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