Poacher Salman Khan gets bail

Poacher Salman Khan gets bail

Salman Khan arrives at the airport in Jodhpur after being freed on bail on Saturday as he prepares to appeal his conviction on poaching charges. (AP Photo)
Salman Khan arrives at the airport in Jodhpur after being freed on bail on Saturday as he prepares to appeal his conviction on poaching charges. (AP Photo)

JODHPUR, India: Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday, allowing him to contest a five-year prison sentence for killing endangered wildlife two decades ago.

Khan, one of the world's highest-paid actors, spent two nights in jail after a court on Thursday found him guilty of killing rare antelopes known as "black bucks" on a hunting trip while shooting a movie in 1998.

Mahesh Bora, a lawyer for Khan, told reporters that a judge had signed off his bail on a bond of 50,000 rupees ($770).

Media reports said the 52-year-old action movie star would be able to leave Jodhpur Central Jail in Rajasthan state before the end of the day.

Prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi said Khan would now have to appear in court on May 7.

The actor -- affectionately called bhai, or "brother" in Hindi -- enjoys a cult-like status and had hordes of fans waiting outside the court on Saturday. They burst into celebrations after the hearing, beating drums and chanting his name.

But the animal rights group Peta said it was disappointed with Khan's token bail.

"While Salman Khan gets to go back home to his movie star life for now, black bucks were made to pay the highest price, with their lives," said Manilal Valliyate, CEO of Peta India.

The brawny actor, called Prisoner 106 in jail, had reportedly been skipping his no-frills prison meals but not his workout sessions. The Times of India newspaper reported that he spent three hours exercising on Friday.

Khan has accused Rajasthan's forestry department of trying to frame him. His lawyers claim the black bucks died of natural causes such as overeating, claiming there was no evidence the animals were shot.

Four other Bollywood stars -- Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari -- who were also accused in the case were acquitted due to lack of evidence.


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