An Indian court Thursday sentenced top Bollywood star Salman Khan to five years in jail over the killing of a protected deer nearly two decades ago, a prosecution lawyer said.
“The court has sentenced Salman Khan to five years’ imprisonment and fined him 10,000 rupees (about 154 dollars),” Mahipal Bishnoi said.
Khan was being taken to Jodhpur Central Jail, where scores of fans waited for a glimpse of the actor, Times Now news channel reported.
His lawyers have filed for bail and plan to appeal against the verdict in a higher court. The bail appeal would be heard Friday.
Khan was charged with killing two blackbucks, a protected species under India’s Wildlife Protection Act, in the Rajasthan village of Kankani on the night of October 1-2, 1998.
The trial court in Jodhpur found Khan guilty and called him “a habitual offender.” It acquitted six others, including four other actors, prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi said.
With his rippling muscles, swaggering stride and snake-hipped dancing, Khan is Bollywood’s favourite bad boy and one of the Indian box office’s biggest draws.
Over the years, he has faced three court cases for allegedly killing gazelles and antelopes in separate hunts. He spent a few days in jail in 2007 before being granted bail.
He was acquitted in two cases, which have been challenged by the Rajasthan government before the Supreme Court.
The cases were brought to court by region’s Bishnoi community, a Hindu group that regards wildlife as sacred. The prosecution lawyer said the community would oppose bail for Khan.
The sessions court acquitted actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam and a local businessman from the Dushyant Singh area, with the court saying they were being given the benefit of the doubt, Bishnoi said.
Khan, who has a reputation for being brash and arrogant, has been involved in several controversies.
In 2016, the high court in Mumbai suspended the actor’s five-year jail sentence in a hit-and-run case. He was convicted for running over a homeless man while allegedly driving drunk in 2002.
The action hero has appeared in films such as “Dabangg” (2010) and “Dabangg 2” (2012), in which he played a fearless police officer with attitude, and “Ready” and “Bodyguard” (both 2011).
Khan has also starred in several romantic films, including 1994 wedding drama “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” (Who Am I To You?), which ran in theatres for four years, and 1989’s “Maine Pyar Kiya” (I Have Loved).
He often plays a character called Prem, a Hindi name that means love. In a career spanning 26 years, Khan has starred in over 80 films, including many blockbusters that have proved more popular with the public than with critics.
His 2017 release “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Tiger Is Alive) is one of Bollywood’s biggest box-office hits. The film collected 5.6 billion rupees worldwide.
Khan is also behind the Being Human foundation, which has made donations for schools and healthcare for underprivileged children.
“This is a tragic day for Salman Khan’s producers, his co-actors and millions of fans,” actor Raza Murad was quoted as saying by NDTV news channel.
“Salman is a golden-hearted man who has helped so many people but law will take its own course.”