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Dubai lawyer to defend Salmanin hunting case

A Dubai-based Indian lawyer and friend of Salman Khan will soon fly to India to join the Indian actor's defence team.

Gulf News

Dubai: A Dubai-based Indian lawyer and friend of Salman Khan will soon fly to India to join the Indian actor's defence team.

Khan, 40, was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs25,000 (about Dh2,000) by a court in Jodhpur in the western state of Rajasthan on Monday for poaching an endangered Chinkara, also known as the Indian gazelle or black buck, eight years ago.

The actor is expected to appeal the verdict and will also be making his bail application today.

Khan had to spend two nights in the Jodhpur Central jail until the courts re-opened today after a public holiday.

Other Bollywood actors accused of accompanying Khan Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

"I personally feel that the verdict handed to Salman is very harsh. This is because it is his first crime. He does not have a track record and he is not a hard core criminal," said Ashish Mehta, the Dubai-based Indian who has been practising law in Dubai for the last 17 years.

The actor was also sentenced to a year in prison in February last year for killing two black bucks on another hunting trip, but was granted bail to appeal to a higher court.

Mehta said under simple imprisonment a person is kept behind bars, but under rigorous imprisonment they are kept under strict conditions.

In reply to any possible grounds on which the bail application would be rejected Mehta said: "It is premature to say anything. We are very optimistic that he will be granted bail. Generally if bail is rejected the individual can always move to a court of higher jurisdiction."

He said the case had attracted a lot of publicity because of Salman's celebrity status.

"Theoretically the law in India is very strict. But poaching is done all over India. This particular verdict has sent a message to one and all that no one is above the law."

"I personally feel that the verdict handed to Salman is very harsh. This is because it is his first crime. He does not have a track record and he is not a hard core criminal."

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