Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has been found guilty of all charges in the 2002 fatal hit-and-run case that killed one person and injured several others. A judge has ordered him to serve five years in jail.
The actor, who has appeared in nearly 100 Hindi-language films, was charged with culpable homicide and driving under the influence after crashing his SUV into a bakery in Mumbai.
Khan, 49, had successfully dodged charges for several years. At one point, the Bollywood star had placed the blame on his driver, although the judge refused to believe his testimony. The judge determined that the actor was solely responsible for the deadly incident.
The 49-year-old actor had recently been filming a new movie in Kashmir.
According to the BBC, he reportedly broke down inside court as the guilty verdict was announced.
Khan is certain to appeal, meaning that the story will continue to run and run. But it is not yet clear whether that will keep him free and at liberty, or whether he will begin to serve some of the sentence behind bars.
Khan was sentenced on Wednesday by a sessions court. His lawyers appealed to the Bombay High Court and Khan has been granted bail till Friday. It is an interim bail until Friday, when there will be a fresh bail hearing.
The verdict casts a shadow over Khan’s upcoming releases. His next was scheduled to be “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” a co-production between his Salman Khan Productions and Kabir Khan Productions, directed by Kabir Khan (“Ek tha Tiger”) distributed by Eros Intl. on July 17. Eros, however, updated its release schedule Wednesday and made no change to the timing of “Bajrangi Bhaijaan.” Khan has “Prem ratan dhan payo” from Rajshri Productions and Fox Star Studios India, due Nov. 13, directed by Sooraj Barjatya.
One source has said that even the appeals process will stunt Khan’s career and cost Bollywood up to 5 billion rupees ($85 million) in lost revenues over the next two years.
“This is Salman’s story. Everybody is only talking about him,” said one online commentator. “However the story of the homeless man is even sadder. Nobody remembers him.”
Bollywood celebrities have been largely supportive of Khan. One, fashion designer Farah Khan Ali, went further and appeared to blame the victim for the accident by sleeping on the footpath. “No one should be sleeping on the road or footpath. It is dangerous to do that just like it is dangerous to cross tracks,” she said on Twitter.