It’s been nearly 13 years since hugely popular Bollywood star Salman Khan’s SUV plowed over a group of men who were sleeping on a Mumbai sidewalk, injuring four and killing one: 38-year-old Noor Ullah Khan. The case has been slogging its way through India’s legal system ever since.
Until yesterday’s court decision to hand him a five-year sentence, that is.
Back in March, Khan — at 49, he still has a “bad boy” reputation — blamed his driver for the accident, explaining that he’d been seen exiting the vehicle on the driver’s side simply “because the door on the passenger side was jammed.” The judge wasn’t having it, according to the BBC:
But Judge DW Deshpande found him guilty on the charge of culpable homicide.
“You were driving the car; you were under the influence of alcohol,” he told the actor as soon as the court proceedings began.
The 49-year-old actor was also found guilty of negligent driving and causing grievous harm to the victims and given separate terms for each offence, but defence lawyers said all the sentences would run concurrently.
Khan is currently out on bail until tomorrow, and he’ll be appealing the verdict. Among his other legal entanglements over the years, he was convicted in 2006 for hunting chinkara, or Indian gazelles, an endangered species. He was sentenced to five years in that case, too, but served just one week.
The reason for all this scrutiny is, of course, the fact that Khan is hugely important to India’s entertainment industry, and a stretch of jail time could impact that. Over the years, he has starred in some of India’s biggest blockbusters — including 2011’s Ready, which produced this upbeat jam:
Top image: Salman Khan leaves the Mumbai Sessions court after the verdict in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015. AP Photo by Rajanish Kakade.