Bollywood star handed prison term
One of India's biggest and most popular movie stars, Salman Khan, has been sentenced to five years in prison over a hit-and-run crash in which he drove a vehicle over five men sleeping on a pavement, killing one of them.
Judge DW Deshpande of the Mumbai Sessions court found Khan guilty earlier today of culpable homicide in the 2002 crash.
The 49-year-old actor was also given separate terms for negligent driving and causing grievous harm to the victims, but all the sentences will run concurrently, defence lawyers said.
His lawyers filed an appeal for bail in the Mumbai High Court, lawyer Srikant Shivade said. It granted Khan two days of temporary bail until it hears his formal bail plea on Friday.
If bail is approved, Khan will not have to go to jail while he appeals against the verdict.
The prosecution told the court that Khan was drunk when he rammed his vehicle into a group of homeless people sleeping on a pavement in September 2002.
Khan has always denied that he was behind the wheel. In April, his driver Ashok Singh told the court that he was driving and lost control of the vehicle when one of its tyres burst.
But Judge Deshpande dismissed the actor's claim and accused him of driving the car under the influence of alcohol and then fleeing.
Khan also faces trial in a separate case for allegedly killing two rare deer in a western India wildlife preserve 16 years ago.
Huge crowds gathered outside Khan's house in south Mumbai this morning for a glimpse of the star as he emerged from his apartment building surrounded by security guards.
Scores of television crews and reporters followed the actor's car and thronged the court building as the judges gave their verdict in a case that has been closely watched by millions of Khan's fans in India and abroad.
Khan is one of Bollywood's most popular stars, appearing in more than 90 Hindi-language films in his 27-year career.
Television channels said Khan looked downcast during the court proceedings and teared up when the judge pronounced the verdict.
Khan's brothers, Arbaaz and Sohail, were present in the courtroom, which was packed with other relatives and Khan's friends from the film industry.
Another popular Bollywood actor, Sanjay Dutt, is currently serving time for illegal possession of weapons linked to a 1993 terror attack in Mumbai. However, since he was sentenced in April 2013, Dutt has spent long periods at his Mumbai home on medical grounds.