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Bollywood star bailed until appeal

One of India's biggest film stars has been granted bail until a court hears his appeal over his conviction in a drink-drive hit-and-run case more than a decade ago.

Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday on charges of driving over five men sleeping on the pavement, killing one of them, in Mumbai in 2002.

The Mumbai High Court said today that it will start hearing the 49-year-old's appeal in July, according to prosecutor Abha Singh.

Khan is one of Bollywood's most popular stars, appearing in more than 90 Hindi-language films in his 27-year career.

It could take years more for Khan's case to wind its way through India's overburdened legal system.

Justice Abhay Thipsay asked Khan to pay a bail bond of 30,000 rupees (£300).

A large crowd of Khan's supporters danced with joy outside his house in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital.

However, one of his fans tried to commit suicide by consuming poison just before the start of courts proceedings today, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Police rushed him to a hospital in an unconscious state.

The fan, an aspiring scriptwriter named Gourango Kundu, said in a pamphlet that he was hoping Khan would give him a break in Bollywood movies. If the actor was sent to prison, he would not be able to help him, the pamphlet read.

In convicting Khan on Wednesday, the trial court accepted the prosecution's plea that he was drunk when he rammed his car into a group of homeless people and found him guilty of culpable homicide. The trial had dragged for more than 12 years.

Khan began his career in 1988, playing a romantic action hero with many of his movies becoming box office hits. In recent years he turned to philanthropy, establishing a charitable trust called Being Human which works in education and health care for the poor.

Bollywood film-makers were worried about the court case because Khan has several films in the pipeline. Film industry analysts said he had projects worth 2.5 billion rupees (£25 million) depending on him.

Even if the Mumbai High Court upholds his conviction, the actor could go to India's top court, the Supreme Court, seeking a reversal of his sentence.


From Belfast Telegraph