A trial court in Jodhpur, India has convicted Salman Khan in a 1998 blackbuck poaching case, reports Times of India.
The actor has been sentenced to five years in prison, says the report. Two other men were accused in the same case: travel agent Dushyant Singh and Dinesh Gawre, Salman's assistant at the time. Gawre is still absconding while Singh has been acquitted. A penalty of Rs10,000 has also been levied on Salman. The actor will be going to central jail in Jodhpur, according to NDTV.
Salman had earlier pleaded innocence in the case, claiming that the blackbuck died of "natural causes" and he was being "framed". His defense counsel, H M Saraswat said the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond doubt.
"Prosecution has failed to prove allegations against the accused and has engaged in tampering and fabricating evidences and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove the case. It has even failed to prove that blackbucks were killed by gunshots. Hence such investigation cannot be trusted upon", Saraswat said during final arguments on March 28.
Also accused in the same case but with a different charge, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu were present in court when the verdict was announced. They have all been acquitted.
The actors, who were shooting their movie, Hum Saath Saath Hai have been accused of allegedly hunting down blackbucks on the night of October 1 and 2 that year. Blackbuck is an endangered species protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Khan's facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the other actors have been charged under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.