Bollywood's Salman Khan back in Indian court in antelope killing case

Mumbai (AFP) –


Indian movie star Salman Khan was due back in court on Monday over a five-year jail sentence he received for killing rare antelopes.

The Bollywood icon arrived in Jodhpur, in the western state of Rajasthan, Sunday after flying from Mumbai for the hearing, India media reported.

Khan, one of the world's highest-paid actors, was convicted last month of shooting dead two antelopes known as black bucks on a hunting trip while filming a movie in October 1998.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and is currently out on bail.

At Monday's hearing Khan's lawyer is expected to call for the sentence to be suspended pending an appeal.

On April 6 a court found him guilty in the 20-year-old case while acquitting four other actors.

He spent two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail before being released on bail by a judge and returning to Mumbai -- the home of India's multi-billion-dollar Hindi film industry.

Khan has repeatedly denied killing the endangered animals and accuses Rajasthan's forest department of trying to frame him.

His lawyers claim the black bucks died of natural causes such as overeating, insisting there was no evidence they were shot.

Throughout the multiple cases, eyewitnesses have stated they saw Khan firing a gun.

The 52-year-old enjoys a cult-like status in star-obsessed India and is one of Bollywood's biggest draws, despite a host of controversies.

Khan was in a vehicle in Mumbai in 2002 when it mounted the curb and killed a homeless man sleeping on the pavement.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison, but the verdict was overturned in a higher court in 2015. His acquittal is being challenged in the Supreme Court.