Bollywood superstar Salman Khan free on bail after brief jail stay

NEW DELHI, Siddhartha Kumar (dpa)- Bollywood megastar Salman Khan, who was sentenced this week to five years in jail for the killing of protected deer, was released from a prison in northern India after being granted bail Saturday.
A court in Jodhpur in the state of Rajasthan convicted Khan for killing two blackbucks in the region in 1998. The 52-year-old actor had been lodged in a jail since Thursday.

On Saturday, a city court granted Khan bail under conditions which include depositing a personal bond of 50,000 rupees (770 dollars), prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi said.
The muscular actor walked out of jail wearing a black T-shirt and cap hours later and left for the airport to take a chartered flight back home to Mumbai, also India’s entertainment capital.
Khan’s fans celebrated the order by setting off fireworks outside his residence in Mumbai. Some held posters in support of the actor.
Domestic media reported that film producers were also relieved as millions of rupees were riding on Khan, with big-budget movies starring him in production.
Among other conditions, Khan cannot leave the country without the court’s permission. The next hearing in the case has been fixed for May 7. Khan's lawyers told reporters they have challenged the conviction in a higher court.
Khan was charged with killing two blackbucks, a protected species under India's Wildlife Protection Act, in the Rajasthan village of Kankani on the night of October 1-2, 1998.
A group of actors - Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Sonali Bendre - who were in the sports utility vehicle along with Khan and were co-accused were acquitted by the court.
In numerous hearings in the case, Khan and his lawyers have denied the charges, insisting he was being framed.
Over the years, he has faced three court cases for allegedly killing gazelles and antelopes in separate hunts. He spent a few days in jail in 2007 before being granted bail.
He was acquitted in two cases, which have been challenged by the Rajasthan government before the Supreme Court.
The cases were brought to court by the region's Bishnoi community, a Hindu group that regards wildlife as sacred.
Khan, who has a reputation for being brash and arrogant, has been involved in several controversies.
In 2016, the high court in Mumbai suspended the actor's five-year jail sentence in a hit-and-run case. He was convicted of running over a homeless man while allegedly driving drunk in 2002.
Controversies apart, Khan is one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars with a massive fan base in India and abroad.
The action hero has appeared in films such as "Dabangg" and "Dabangg 2", in which he played a fearless police officer with attitude, and "Ready" and "Bodyguard".
His 2017 release "Tiger Zinda Hai" (Tiger Is Alive) is one of Bollywood's biggest box office hits. The film collected 5.6 billion rupees worldwide.

Monday, April 9th 2018
Siddhartha Kumar (dpa)

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