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Son of wealthy Indian arms dealer face up to 10 years in BMW case

A court on Tuesday convicted the son of a wealthy Indian arms dealer of manslaughter for running over and killing six people more than nine years ago in the so-called BMW case, an attorney said. The trial captivated the nation as a test of fairness of India's judicial system.

Sanjeev Nanda, 30, faces up to 10 years in jail on manslaughter charges, according to his attorney, Ramesh Gupta. Judge Vinod Kumar was expected to announce the sentence Wednesday, along with those of three other defendants who were convicted of destroying evidence.

Nanda is the son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and a grandson of India's former naval chief, S. M. Nanda.

The high-profile case has been seen as a test of whether India's judicial system, which has a long history of favoring the well-connected, is willing to hold the wealthy accountable.

Many saw the ruling as an encouraging sign that India's two-tiered justice system was becoming a thing of the past.

"The fact that justice has prevailed will give some hope that the powerful can't get away with manipulating the system," said Ved Marwah, a retired police commissioner.

Prosecutors said Nanda and two of his friends were returning from a party at 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 10, 1999 when their BMW, speeding at roughly 85 miles per hour (135 kilometers per hour), crashed into seven people standing along an empty street. A witness reportedly saw the men stop, examine the damage to their car, then speed off. The victims, three policemen and three laborers, died.

Nanda and two friends who were with him in the car, Siddharta Gupta and Manik Kapoor, were classmates at an elite New Delhi private school. Nanda was home for the holidays from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

Prosecutors said Siddharta Gupta and two others washed blood from the car, and the three were convicted of destroying evidence.

Kapoor, who was also charged with destroying evidence, was acquitted.

Nanda's lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

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