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Friday, December 01, 2006

Sanjay Dutt in court

Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, convicted for possessing illegal weapons, urged an Indian court on Thursday to be lenient in sentencing him, saying he had obeyed all the conditions of his bail so far. Dutt's plea came two days after he was cleared of charges of conspiracy in a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai that killed 257 people in 1993.

Lawyers say his firearms offence could still carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail. He has already served more than a year in prison during investigations.

"He pleaded before the court that he had not violated any condition, nor committed any crime during the bail period," public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told Reuters. "He said therefore he should be shown leniency." The court gave Dutt until December 19 to surrender after the actor sought time to sort out his personal and film commitments.

Dutt also requested the court to allow him to go abroad in connection with the work of a cancer trust started by his father, a former film star and federal minister who died last year.

"He told the court 'I love my nation. India is my country'," Nikam said quoting the burly actor, one of the most sought after in Bollywood after his film, "Lage Raho Munnabhai," (Carry on Munnabhai), became the biggest hit of 2006.

The court, which is expected to begin sentencing the accused in the case next month, made no comment on Dutt's plea but asked him to surrender by December 19.

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