Indian film-maker convicted over death of British assistant

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MUMBAI, May 27, 2010 (AFP) – An Indian film-maker has been sentenced to one month in jail after his British female assistant was knocked over by a train and killed during a shoot in Mumbai.

A railway court in the city found Kaizad Gustad guilty of causing the death of Nadia Khan due to a “rash and negligent act” and also fined him 75,000 rupees (1,600 dollars), the Press Trust of India news agency said late Tuesday.

Khan, 26, was helping the director on the set of his film “Mumbai Central” at Mahalaxmi station in south Mumbai six years ago when she was hit by a train.

Gustad was initially charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He had claimed that Khan died in a road accident and was not at the station, according to the prosecution.

The charge carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence and he spent time on remand in prison before securing bail.

In January 2009 a court ruled that he should face a lesser charge. Defence witnesses testified that Khan should have been on platform one, where no trains were running, instead of on the track near platform four, where she was killed.

Gustad is on bail pending appeal but will not have to serve the jail sentence because he has already spent 35 days in custody on remand, Indian media reported, quoting the 28-page judgment.

“It is significant to note that there is no evidence as to how and in which manner Khan came in contact with the running train. Nobody has seen the actual incident,” the ruling said, according to the Mumbai Mirror newspaper.

Khan may have lost her balance and fallen into the path of the oncoming train, the judgment added, but said that Gustad could have taken more precautions to prevent his assistant venturing onto the track.

The lawyer for Khan’s family, Yug Chaudhry, told the newspaper that the compensation was “very meagre and measly, especially given the background, the financial capacity and the earning potential of the accused and the victim”.

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