(AFP) – Indian movie star Salman Khan managed to avoid the spotlight when he returned to court on Monday over his five-year jail sentence for killing endangered wildlife.
Khan, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, was convicted in April of shooting dead two rare antelopes known as black bucks on a hunting trip while filming a movie in October 1998.
The Bollywood icon complied with his bail terms by appearing at an early-morning hearing in Jodhpur, in the western state of Rajasthan.
He slipped into court around 8:00 am (0230 GMT), catching Indian media off guard. Court sessions generally start much later in India.
The judge, Chandra Kumar Songara, quickly adjourned proceedings after Khan’s defence team requested more time to prepare their appeal.
“We will begin arguments on the appeal against the five-year sentence from July 17,” said defence counsel Mahesh Bora.
The prosecution said they would oppose the appeal bid and were ready to present their case.
Four other actors were acquitted at last month’s hearings, and Khan spent two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail before being released on bail and returning to Mumbai, the home of India’s multi-billion-dollar Hindi film industry.
Khan has repeatedly denied killing the creatures and accuses Rajasthan’s forest department of trying to frame him.
His lawyers claim the black bucks died of natural causes such as overeating, insisting there was no evidence they were shot.
Throughout the multiple cases, eyewitnesses have stated they saw Khan firing a gun.
The 52-year-old enjoys a cult-like status in star-obsessed India and is one of Bollywood’s biggest draws, despite a host of controversies.
Khan was in a vehicle in Mumbai in 2002 when it mounted the curb and killed a homeless man sleeping on the pavement.
He was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison, but the verdict was overturned in a higher court in 2015. His acquittal is being challenged in the Supreme Court.