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

New Delhi 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.

Khan, one of India’s most bankable stars, was sentenced by a lower court on May 6 to five years in prison for allegedly running over several men sleeping on a Mumbai pavement, and killing one of them.

He was free on two days’ bail, and many had expected him to be taken into custody Friday.

The high court’s decision will undoubtedly be welcome news to the Indian film industry. His absence could have cost the industry more than $31 million, trade analysts say.

However, the High Court will allow him to remain free until his appeal hearing in July, said prosecutor Pradeep Gharat.

Khan will not be allowed to leave the country during the time without permission.

Crowds outside the court erupted in cheers as the news spread.

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.

Who is Salman Khan?