01:48 - Source: CNN
Bollywood star found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Story highlights

Salman Khan faced up to 10 years in prison

The deadly events took place more than 12 years ago

(CNN) —  

Mumbai’s High Court has suspended Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s prison sentence while he appeals his conviction in a fatal hit-and-run case.

If his sentence is upheld, Khan’s absence could cost the Indian film industry more than $31 million, trade analysts say.

The 49-year-old Khan’s stature in Bollywood can’t be overstated. He is Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and George Clooney rolled into one – oozing sex appeal and machismo in the more than 80 movies he’s starred in.

In its list of the best looking man in the world, People Magazine once placed him at no. 7. He has a rabid fan base (with 15 million Twitter followers), and has enjoyed an unheard-of two-decade reign at the top.

The hit and run

The hit-and-run incident took place outside a Mumbai bakery more than 12 years ago, in September 2002.

Prosecutors said Khan ran over five sleeping men after losing control of his sports utility vehicle. He was returning from a bar after a night of drinking, they said.

One of the victims was killed; the others injured.

The actor contended he wasn’t the driver. Prosecutors said he left the scene after the crash.

The likely appeal

On Wednesday, a Mumbai court found that Khan was behind the wheel at the time, and that he was drunk. He was convicted of culpable homicide and seven other charges.

He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison; the judge sentenced him to five.

If the sentence is upheld, it will bring his long and storied career as a movie heartthrob to a screeching halt.

He has several films in the pipeline. He also stands to lose out on large sums of money from endorsement deals.

But the actor will likely appeal to the Mumbai High Court now. Immediately after the sentencing Wednesday, Khan’s lawyers said he had a heart ailment, and secured his release on bail until the hearing before the High Court Friday.

Who is Salman Khan?

CNN’s Rishabh Pratap reported from New Delhi; Saeed Ahmed reported and wrote from Atlanta.