Bollywood star Salman Khan is facing up to six years in jail after being found guilty of killing two rare antelopes.
An Indian court in the city of Jodhpur today convicted the mega-star of poaching the rare antelopes back in 1998 – a verdict that could derail the career of one of the country’s most popular actors.
52 year old Salman Khan killed the protected species in the Indian state of Rajasthan whilst shooting a movie, and was found guilty of violating the country’s wildlife law.
He could face up to six years in prison, with a one year jail term being the minimum, according to reports.
Mahipal Bishnoi, a lawyer who fought against Khan, said the court in Jodhpur was hearing arguments on the appropriate sentence for the actor.
“They are praying for probation, they are emphasising on the minimum sentence,” Bishnoi told reporters outside the court.
Reuters reports they could not immediately reach a lawyer for Khan to seek comment.
Killing of blackbucks is punishable under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Their judicial authorities had framed charges against the accused Salman Khan in 2006, but trial began only in 2013 after being on hold for six years over a partial discharge granted by the trial court, till the high court restored all charges in 2012.
The hunting incident occurred at 2am on October 2, 1998.
Two other people – Dushyant Singh (a travel agent) and Dinesh Gawre (Salman’s assistant at the time) – are also accused in the case.
Four other Bollywood stars – Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari – were also accused of partaking in the hunting trip but were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Heavy security was deployed outside the Jodhpur court before the verdict against Salman Khan was delivered.
Hundreds of police were deployed outside the courtroom in Jodhpur to keep back fans who massed to support the body-building actor best known for his macho roles.
Salman Khan, known for his tough guy roles in Hindi films, has accused the state’s forest department of framing him over the rare antelope case.