Indian court grants bail to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan

Business Law

A court on Saturday granted bail to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who will be allowed to remain free while he appeals his conviction on charges of poaching rare deer in a wildlife preserve two decades ago.

Khan was convicted Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison and was immediately sent to jail. On Saturday, Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi ordered him to sign a surety bond of 50,000 rupees ($770) before he could be set free from the jail in Jodhpur, a town in western India.

After he was released, he was driven straight to the airport to fly to his home in Mumbai, India's entertainment capital.

Hundreds of Khan's overjoyed fans danced outside the courtroom and chanted "We love you, Salman." His sisters, Alvira and Arpita, were present during the hearing.

Carrying big garlanded posters of Khan, they also set off firecrackers and sang songs from his Bollywood movies as some of them chased his car heading to the airport.

The scenes were more intense outside his Mumbai residence. Thousands of fans waited for hours and lit up the sky with fireworks as Khan reached his home.

Flanked by his father and other relatives, he came to the balcony of his apartment with folded hands and waved, thanking them for their support. He retreated after signalling his fans to go home.

Four other Bollywood stars accused in the case - Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam - were acquitted Thursday by Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri. They were in the vehicle that Salman Khan was believed to be driving during the hunt in 1998. Tabu and Neelam both use just one name.

Khan says he did not shoot the two blackbuck deer. The heavily muscled actor was acquitted in two related cases.

His attorney Mahesh Bora has challenged the conviction and sentence, and Khan will remain free pending the outcome of the appeal.

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