Indian court suspends Bollywood star Salman Khan's jail term

Indian actor Salman Khan leaves the court after getting two days interim bail from the Bombay High Court, in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA  
Indian actor Salman Khan leaves the court after getting two days interim bail from the Bombay High Court, in Mumbai, India, May 6, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA  

MUMBAI (AFP) - Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's five-year prison sentence for killing a homeless man with his SUV after a night out of drinking 13 years ago was suspended today pending an appeal, according to reports.

The actor was on Wednesday found guilty at a sessions court of culpable homicide and other charges for driving his vehicle into a group of homeless men sleeping rough in suburban Mumbai in 2002.

But on Friday, lawyers for Khan argued to Mumbai's High Court that their client's conviction should be overturned.

The court agreed to suspend the sentence until an appeal is heard, according to Indian television networks NDTV and CNN-IBN.

The decision means the actor's jail sentence does not take effect, the reports said.

On Wednesday, a judge found Khan guilty of all charges, including driving while under the influence of alcohol and without a licence.

Judge D.W. Deshpande rejected Khan's claim that his driver was to blame and sentenced the 49-year-old to five years in prison, later granting the star bail ahead of Friday's hearing.

During the trial, the defence claimed that Khan had been drinking water and had climbed out of the car through the driver's seat after the accident because the passenger side door had been damaged.

But several prosecution witnesses, including survivors of the crash, testified that he was driving the vehicle when it ploughed at speed into the men sleeping on the street near a bakery in September 2002.

Khan is the second big-name Bollywood actor to be sentenced in the last two years.

Sanjay Dutt, the star of a series of gangster movies, is behind bars over possession of weapons linked to several bombings in Mumbai in 1993.

Khan has starred in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit Maine Pyar Kiya (I Fell In Love) in the 1980s.