March 30, 2011 / 3:44 PM / 6 years ago

Actor Shiney Ahuja given 7 years for rape

Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja (C) leaves the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai October 3, 2009.Stringer/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Award-winning Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for raping his maid, his lawyer said, in a case that shocked the world's largest film industry.

Ahuja was granted bail in October 2009 and ordered by the court to leave Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, three months after he was arrested on charges of rape, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement of his maid, who is now 20 years old.

The 37-year-old actor will appeal against the sentence in the Bombay High Court, lawyer Srikant Shivade told Reuters. The trial court was closed to reporters.

Ahuja won a slew of awards for his 2003 debut in the critically acclaimed "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi". He has maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process.

In the more than 18 months between arrest and sentencing, Ahuja had been working on a new film.

"Shiney finished shooting for 'The Accident' a while back. But we haven't decided when to release it. That's a marketing and business decision," Ramkamal Mukherjee, head of corporate communications at Pritish Nandy Communications, told Reuters.

Another film featuring Ahuja, which has been ready for release for more than two years, has also not come out.

Ahuja is married and has a young daughter.

The sentencing of a movie star in India is rare.

Sanjay Dutt was sent to prison in 2007 for possessing a powerful firearm, while Salman Khan was found guilty in 2006 of shooting an endangered species of antelope.

Reporting by Henry Foy and Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by C.J. Kuncheria and Alan Raybould

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