Indian movie star to go to prison in poaching case

Salman Khan, one of India 's most popular movie stars, was sentenced to a year in prison Friday after he was found guilty of hunting rare antelope in a desert wildlife preserve in 1998, his lawyer said. He was also fined rupees 5,000 (US$1,136; Ђ 946) by the court in the western city of Jodhpur .

Khan was charged with shooting black bucks in the Thar desert during a break from filming a movie. The trial has been under way for seven years in Jodhpur , 480 kilometers (300 miles) southwest of New Delhi . Khan, who was present in the court when the sentence was announced, has denied the charges.

His lawyer said the star would appeal the sentence. "He is innocent. His stand has always been that he did not kill any black buck and he was wrongly implicated," said Dipesh Mehta, Khan's lawyer.

Khan was "disappointed and disturbed that he has been sentenced when he is innocent," Mehta said. Khan's impending imprisonment has Bollywood, as Bombay 's Hindi film industry is popularly known, worried about the fate of films riding on him.

"It's not just Salman who will suffer. Producers connected with him will be hurt," said Taran Adarsh, editor of Bombay-based Trade Guide magazine. Three films, including "God, Tussi Great," or "God, You Are Great," and "Jaaneman," or "Beloved," in which Khan is playing lead roles would be delayed indefinitely, Adarsh said.

Criticized as brash and rude by journalists, Khan has been a heartthrob for almost 15 years. He often portrays macho yet romantic characters who fight for love. Members of the local Bishnoi tribe, who worship the black buck, alerted forest officials to the killings.

Nearly 80 people gave evidence against the film star, police have said. Khan is also on trial in a separate case in Bombay for a traffic accident that killed a man in 2002. Three people were injured and one killed when Khan allegedly hit a group of people sleeping on a Bombay sidewalk, reports the AP.

N.U.

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