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February 16, 2019

Bollywood star Salman Khan jailed five years for killing rare antelope

Bollywood actor Salman Khan sits in a car as he leaves a court in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015. /REUTERS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan sits in a car as he leaves a court in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015. /REUTERS

Bollywood star Salman Khan has been jailed five years after being found guilty of killing rare antelopes in a 20-year-old poaching case.

The 52-year-old, who is one of the top ten best paid actors in the world, was convicted of shooting two blackbuck deers in a western India wildlife reserve in 1998.

Khan was in court for Thursday's ruling in Jodhpur, Rajasthan state.

He is expected to be taken to a local prison while it could take days for his attorneys to appeal the conviction and seek bail.

The body-building actor, best known for his macho roles, claims he did not shoot the blackbucks - an endangered species protected under the Indian Wildlife Act.

Khan has instead accused the Rajasthan state's forest department of framing him over the blackbuck case. 

Hundreds of police were deployed outside the courtroom in Jodhpur to keep back fans during the ruling and sentencing on Thursday.

Four other Bollywood stars - Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari - were also accused of taking part in the hunting trip but were acquitted for lack of evidence.

"Salman Khan has been convicted under the wildlife protection act and the rest of the stars have been acquitted," prosecutor Mahipal Bishnoi told reporters.

No stranger to controversy, Khan was cleared in 2015 of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run accident in 2002. 

That decision is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Indian courts can often take years - and sometimes decades - to pronounce verdicts.

But the off-screen drama has done little to dampen his appeal, with Khan one of Bollywood's biggest draws.

According to Forbes, he made $37 million in yearly earnings to finish second behind Shah Rukh Khan in 2017 Bollywood rankings.

The Bollywood heartthrob's latest blockbuster 'Tiger Zinda Hai' (Tiger is alive) collected some $85 million worldwide.

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