Bollywood star's jail term suspended pending appeal

Salman Khan was convicted on Wednesday to five years in prison for deadly crash in 2002.

    Bollywood star's jail term suspended pending appeal
    Protesters in India's Punjab state took to the streets on Friday to denounce the court's 'preferential treatment of Khan [Reuters]

    A court in India has suspended pending an appeal the five-year prison sentence against Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who was convicted for killing a homeless man with his SUV 13 years ago.

    Mumbai High Court judge Abhay Thipsay ruled on Friday that the sentence would be suspended until an appeal was heard, expected to be in July, and set new bail terms for the film icon.

    On Friday, lawyers for 49-year-old Khan argued at the city's High Court that their client's conviction should be overturned.

    The actor was on Wednesday found guilty at a sessions court of culpable homicide and other charges for driving his vehicle into a group of homeless men sleeping rough in suburban Mumbai in 2002.

    He was convicted of all charges, including driving while under the influence of alcohol and without a licence, and was sentenced to five years in prison but released on bail for two days.

    Following the court's decision on Friday, Khan's lawyer Amit Desai said: "The prosecution has not established beyond doubt that it was my client who was driving that night."

    'Preferential treatment'

    Dozens of Khan's fans gathered on Friday outside his home in Mumbai to welcome the court's decision.

    "We asked the blessing from god that Salman should get less punishment. If stars like Salman Khan are sent to jail then there will be a vacuum in Bollywood, and there will be no fun in watching films," Yogesh Prahlad, a Khan supporter, said.

    Bollywood stars also reacted with delight to the announcement.

    "This very good news for all who are working with him. The law will obviously take its own course," leading filmmaker Anees Bazmee told NDTV.

    But many ordinary citizens on social media complained that justice was being compromised.

    A group of people in Ludhiana town in India's northern Punjab state also took to the streets to protest against the ruling.

    The protestors, who were mostly poor and homeless people, alleged that preferential treatment was being given to Khan. They raised slogans demanding the actor be arrested immediately.

    "We are protesting against the decision by the court to grant bail to actor Salman Khan. Don't the poor people in India who live on the streets and who do not have a roof above their heads, deserve to live," Varun Mehta, a member of the Hindu Morcha said.

    The protestors burnt posters of Salman Khan and demanded that he be punished for killing a person lying on the roadside.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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